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The Notably Magnificent Original Seven Wonders of the World

Original Seven Wonders of the World
There have been different versions of seven wonders of the world over the past two and a half millenniums. However, the original seven wonders of the world are most noteworthy as they were constructed in an era that was devoid of modern engineering techniques.
Marian K
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
★ The first mention of the 'Seven Wonders' was made by Herodotus between 484 and 425 BC.

★ Callimachus of Cyrene, a renowned architect, made references to these seven wonders at the Museum of Alexandria during the period 305-240 BC.

★ Since the original list of seven wonders was created by the Greeks, it only includes extraordinary structures present in the Mediterranean region.
Why Do We Have "Only" Seven Wonders?
It was the Greeks, who first started creating this list of extraordinary structures. They associated the numeral seven (7) with worship of Apollo, one of their principal deities. To them, this numeral was a sign of abundance, rarity, perfection, and respect. Without any doubts, the seven wonders of ancient world possessed most of these qualities. This is how we got the list of 'seven' wonders.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
great pyramid of giza
Location: Giza plateau, Egypt

Year of Creation: c. 2560 BC
Details of Construction:

• It took almost 20 years to construct the Great Pyramid. Historians estimate that, as many as 200,000 skilled laborers and slaves were employed for its construction.

• With a height of approximately 455 ft., it remained the tallest man-made structure for over 3500 years.

• The structure is known to house three chambers inside it, namely, the king's chamber, the queen's chamber and the underground chamber.

• Originally, the outer surface of the structure is said to have been smooth as it was covered in casing stone. However, it got worn out over the past centuries.

Interesting Facts:

From the original seven wonders, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one still standing.

It is also known as Pyramid of Khufu, since it was built as a tomb for King Khufu. Sometimes, it is also referred as Pyramid of Cheops.

The total mass of the pyramid is estimated to be close to 6 million tons. Assuming that it took 20 years to construct this structure, it would mean moving 250 tons of limestone a day. How these massive stones were mined down the river Nile, shaped, and shipped to the construction site still remains a mystery.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
hanging gardens of babylon
Location: Al Hillah city, Babil province, Central Iraq

Year of Creation: c. 600 BC
Details of Construction:

• According to Diodorus Siculus, an ancient historian, the Hanging Gardens were terraced in several tiers. These tiers comprised garden plots admeasuring approximately 100 x100 ft. in size. These ascending terraces resembled an amphitheater.

• Vaults constructed at each level carried the entire weight of the planted garden. The highest vault was approximately 30 ft. high, in level with the highest point of Babylon city wall. The base of these vaults, on which the gardens were laid out, were constructed out of long stone beams. On these, thick weeds set in tar were laid out. These were covered by a layer of bricks and cemented together with a final covering of lead to prevent any seepage of water.

• The mud placed on each vault was thick enough to hold a huge number of plants and large trees.

• There were hidden water passages through which the garden was watered. It is believed that a system similar to Archimedes' Screw might have been implemented to irrigate the gardens.

Interesting Facts:

These gardens are said to have been commissioned by King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon to please his wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the fragrant plants and trees of her homeland.

The existence of lush green Hanging Gardens in Babylon was first documented by Greek historians Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. Since then, they have captured our imagination for centuries. In spite of this, their actual location has been an issue of controversy. Also, there are no authentic proofs documenting details of its construction.

Considering the garden's massive size, it is estimated that it required approximately 36500 liters of water each day to keep it lush green. This water was most likely transported from river Euphrates which was close by.
The Statue of Zeus
statue of zeus
Location: Olympia, Greece (Hellenic Republic)

Year of Creation: c. 432 BC
Details of Construction:

• The statue of Greek god Zeus was 39 feet tall and depicted in a sitting position. It is said to have occupied the entire width of the temple.

• The statue was made of primarily of bronze with inlay work of ivory. It was plated with gold, ebony and precious stones.

• A very detailed description of the statue and its throne was recorded by the traveler Pausanias in the second century. As per his description, the sculpture depicted the Greek god Zeus holding a small statue of Nike, the goddess of Victory in his right hand and a scepter inlaid with gold in his right. For several centuries, people from all over the civilized world visited Olympia to see this unique statue.

Interesting Facts:

This famed statue was sculpted by a renowned Greek sculptor known as Pheidias.

How and when the statue perished is a subject of debate. Some historians record that the statue was carried to Constantinople where it was eventually destroyed in a fire in 475 AD. Others argue that the statue perished when the temple of Zeus was burned in 425 AD.

A confirmation of its existence and its location was authenticated when excavations were being carried out at Olympia in 1954-58. Archeologists found sculpting tools, terracotta molds and a cup with an inscription meaning 'I belong to Pheidias' at the excavation site.
Mausoleum of Mausolus
mausoleum of mausolus
Location: Bodrum (old name Halicarnassus), Turkey

Year of Creation: c. 350 BC
Details of Construction:

• The mausoleum is expected to have been approximately 45 meters in height. There were intricate sculptured reliefs by famous Greek sculptors on all its four sides.

• On top of the walls of the structure were 36 columns (nine per side), and standing between each column was a statue.

• On top of the columns stood a massive pyramid shaped roof.

• The structure was so beautiful and unique that it became one of the seven wonders. Also, the word 'Mausoleum' has been derived from the name of this structure and used in reference to burial chambers constructed above the ground.

Interesting Facts:

Mausolus was a wealthy king (satrap) of a small kingdom which had its capital at Halicarnassus.

Fond of grandeur, his wife Artemisia II of Caria planned to construct a grand tomb to be used as a final resting place for her husband and herself after their death.

This tomb was built between 353 and 350 BC and was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius.

Unfortunately, before the construction was completed, Mausolus died. Depressed and heartbroken, Artemisia died two years later. After cremation of their bodies, urns containing their ashes were placed inside the unfinished tomb. According to historians, the craftsmen working on the tomb decided to stay back and complete the work after the death of Artemisia.

Despite many invasions, the Mausoleum stood undamaged for almost 16 centuries. However, a series of earthquakes shattered it around the year 1404 AD.
Temple of Artemis
temple of artemis
Location: Selçuk, Izmir (old name Smyrna), Turkey

Year of Creation: c. 323 BC
Details of Construction:

• It is said that, two earlier temple structures stood at the same site. The first was destroyed by floods and the second was destroyed by arson. Finally, the third Artemis temple was built around 323 BC.

• Popular sculptors of that era, namely, Endoeus, Scopas, Cresilas, Rhoecus, Phradmon, etc., contributed by sculpting the temple's pillars and sculptures of the deity. The temple was also adorned with beautiful paintings and gilded columns of precious metals.

• Except for the roof, the temple was built entirely of white marble. The roof stood on huge marble pillars to make a wide ceremonial passage with an approximate height of 60 ft.

• It is estimated that the structure consisted of approximately 130 pillars. At present, only the foundations and a few fragments of this temple remain.

Interesting Facts:

This temple was dedicated to Artemis, the Greek Goddess who was venerated with great passion. At times, it was also referred to as the Temple of Goddess Diana.

It became a tourist attraction and was visited by merchants, kings and pilgrims who made offerings in money and kind to the goddess.

The temple was severely damaged and destroyed around 270 AD during a raid by the Goth tribe.

Broken pieces of sculpted pillars and marble stones were later shipped and used in construction of Hagia Sophia, the famous mosque and museum located in present day Istanbul, Turkey.
Colossus of Rhodes
colossus of rhodes
Location: Rhodes island, Dodecanese, Greece (Hellenic Republic)

Year of Creation: c. 280 BC
Details of Construction:

• The statue was approximately 30 meters tall and straddled the Mandraki harbor (according to descriptions by many historians), though ancient accounts differ on the size, shape and its very existence.

• The statue was mounted on white marble pedestal estimated to be at least 15 meters high.

• The structure was built using iron tie bars. Brass plates were fixed above the tie bars as the skin of this statue. It is said that much of the metal used to construct the statue was from various weapons left behind by Demetrius's army when they withdrew after a failed invasion.

• It is believed that, layers of stones had been filled in the hollow structure of the statue's legs up to its knees. This was done to keep the statue stable at all times.

• As the construction of the statue progressed upwards, the workers employed might have created earthen ramps by piling heaps of mud around the pedestal and the statue. On completion of the statue, these mud layers and ramps might have been cleared off to reveal the beautiful statue.

Although this is just a speculation, modern engineers and historians believe it to be the only available technique for constructing such tall and massive structures in ancient times.

Interesting Facts:

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of Greek god Helios and was constructed by Chares of Lindos.

The statue stood for about 56 years, until Rhodes was hit by an earthquake in 226 BC. The statue snapped at its knees and is said to have lain on the ground for as many as 800 years. Even in its fallen state, the statue continued to attract visitors.

In 654 AD, the Arab Muslim caliph Muawiyah captured Rhodes, dismantled the fallen statue and carried away the bronze and metal scrap back home on approximately 900 camels.
Lighthouse at Alexandria
lighthouse at alexandria
Location: Pharos island, off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt

Year of Creation: c. 247 BC
Details of Construction:

• The building was square, measuring approximately 8.5 meters on each side and a height of anything between 115 to 135 meters.

• It was constructed from large blocks of light colored stone and rose in three stages: the lower section was square, the middle was octagonal and the top-most section was cylindrical.

• The Romans are said to have mounted mirrors on the structure, which reflected sunlight during the day. A fire was lit on top of the structure by night to guide sailing ships.

• The walls of the lighthouse were strengthened by using molten lead to hold the masonry work. This helped the structure to withstand ravages of the sea. This was possibly the reason why among the original seven wonders of the world, this one survived for several more centuries.

Interesting Facts:

Construction of this lighthouse was started by Egypt's first Macedonian ruler Ptolemy and completed by his son during 3rd century BC.

Since the Egyptian coastline was very flat and devoid of any prominent landmarks, it was initially constructed as a landmark indicating the location of the harbor to sailing ships. Many years later (around the 1st century), it was converted into a lighthouse by the Romans.

There are ancient claims that the lighthouse could be seen as far off as 35 miles.

This structure was severely damaged in earthquakes that took place in 1303 and later in 1323.

Subsequently, Sultan Qaitbay of Egypt constructed a fortress at the same location, using several large stone remnants of the lighthouse.