The incredible displays of architecture and art referred to as the 7 wonders of the ancient world are a strong testament to the imagination, ingenuity, and hard work that mankind is capable of achieving. However, they are also reminders of mankind’s ability to disagree, destroy and glorify our egos. When ancient scholars decided to select these “seven wonders,” the debate raged and roared on as to which of these accomplishments should be included on the list.
In the end, human hands combined with the forces of nature to destroy six of these seven ancient wonders. Some believe that a few of them were mythical and might not have even existed at all. Still yet, these 7 wonders from ancient times continue to be celebrated and inspire others as amazing feats of skill and creativity from the earliest civilizations on Earth.
Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt
The Great Pyramid was built and commissioned by Pharaoh Khufu. It is still one of the oldest structures that exist today. It towers over 450 ft. high and is believed to be about 4500 years old. It is both the oldest and the largest of all the existing ancient pyramids. Its construction has baffled engineers and scholars for centuries. It is constructed of around 2 million stone blocks, each weighing about 2 – 30 tons each.
In 2013, archaeologists found the very first ancient document that came from the period of time when the pyramid was being constructed. They were logbooks that were over 4500 years old which were titled the “Diary of Merer” which logged daily activities of the pyramid workers. This log described the transporting of limestone from a nearby harbor. It still remains the only one of these ancient wonders that are still standing today.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon are believed to have been built in 600 BC. Herodotus has claimed that the walls of this wonder stretched for some 56 miles, had a thickness of 80 feet, and had a height of about 320 feet. Records claim an earthquake destroyed the gardens in the first century BCE. Their very existence has been debated since history was not recorded in Babylonian documents but through external sources. According to ancient records, the gardens had been built by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II as a gift for Amytis, his wife in 600 BCE.
It is believed that the Hanging Gardens were probably built as enormous rooftop gardens with several foundations of multi-level terraces. Using a column structure, these would have likely been filled with dirt to permit big areas of trees and plants to grow. As the vegetation grew over the sides over the decades, it provided the effect that all the hanging plants were floating inside a beautiful mountain landscape. No doubt that this would have been an unforgettable sight to see in Babylon.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
The Statue of Zeus was built and sculpted in the year 435 BCE. It was about 40 feet tall and actually remained standing for centuries before it was destroyed by Christians during the 5th and 6th centuries. The statue was made of gold and ivory. Sadly, there are neither lingering remains of the statue nor very many image depictions of it either. Thus, there are doubts are to whether it existed, but there is quite a bit of history about the wonder’s builder, Phidias, who was a famous Athenian sculptor.
The Statue of Zeus was erected inside a temple in Olympia, which was a very popular cultural center for the people of ancient Greece. This was where the initial Olympic Games were held, and its primary deity was Zeus, who was the God of Gods. Actual descriptions of this great statue are very limited but it is believed that certain parts of its body were made from ivory, while Zeus’ clothes and beard were made from gold.
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
It is said that it took 120 years for the Temple of Artemis to be built before completion in year 550 BCE. And it was devoted to Artemis, the Greek goddess. King Croesus from Lydia commissioned the construction of this wonder in the Greek Colony of Ephesus which was located in Asia Minor. Ancient records were quite awestruck by the power and beauty of this temple.
The temple was supported by 60-foot columns – 127 of them to be exact. The maximum height of this temple was about 425 feet high and stretched back about 225 feet. In the year 356 BCE, a man named Herostratus attempted to burn the temple down. His reason was a desire to receive fame and to be known for destroying something well known and wonderful. The Ephesians tried to ensure that his name would never be remembered, but ancient historians recorded it anyway. Several years later, Alexander the Great proposed to rebuild this great temple but the offer was refused by the Ephesians.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The famous Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus was constructed during the year 351 BCE. It was about 135 feet high. The reason for it becoming a member of the 7 wonders of the ancient world does not come from its strength or size, but rather because of the sophistication and incredible art forms that adorned its walls.
The structure was created by Greek architects and four sculptors were each assigned one of its four walls. There were 36 total columns along with 10-foot statues depicting Greeks that were battling Amazons, and there were marble chariots that led to the pinnacle of this artful structure. Actually, there some art pieces from this structure that have survived today. Overall, the mausoleum was badly damaged over time by several earthquakes before it was completely ransacked and destroyed by European Crusaders in 1494.
Colossus of Rhodes
The famous Colossus of Rhodes was a magnificent statue that had been dedicated to a god named Helios. It was built between the years of 292 and 280 BCE. It was 110 feet tall and stood over the harbor of Rhodes. It rested on base that was very similar to that of the Statue of Liberty – which was actually modeled by the Colossus. The structure was commissioned right after the Rhodians had fought back against an invasion in the year 304 BCE. Sadly, this statue stood for only 56 years prior to being destroyed by an earthquake.
The statue consisted entirely of bronze. Its remains were a very popular attraction for about 800 years after it fell. Several sources from the time said that fingers from the Colossus statue were actually larger than lots of statues of that time. The ruins of the statue were eventually sold to a Jewish merchant in the year 654.
Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt
During an age before the creation of skyscrapers, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was believed to be the tallest building in the entire world for several centuries. From the 3rd century BCE to 1300 AD, the Lighthouse of Alexandria stood around 440 feet in Egypt. The lighthouse was constructed on the island of Pharos, which had been commissioned by Ptolemy I Soter.
This construction was built in the year 280 BCE. It was actually the third tallest structure after the pyramids. The massive mirror that existed inside this lighthouse made it visible as far as 35 miles away. Needless to say, it was very well accepted by sailors of the time. It was constructed on a square base with a circular design at the top. Several depictions of this great monument are available throughout historical records.
There is no doubt that these 7 wonders of the ancient world deserved being on this prestigious list.