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Ancient World /
Seven Wonders of the World



The pyramid site at Giza, Egypt
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The pyramid site at Giza.

Depiction of the lost Statue of Zeus.
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Depiction of the lost Statue of Zeus.

Seven Wonders of the World
Year built (BCE); year destroyed; Structure
2580-2500 Standing Pyramids of Giza
600 Around 0 Hanging Gardens (Babylon)
550 326 BCE Temple of Artemis (Ephesus)
435 5th or 6th century CE Statue of Zeus (Olympia, Greece)
351 1494 CE Mausoleum of Satrap Mausolus (Bodrum)
292-280 224 BCE Colossus of Helios (Rhodes)
3rd century 14th and 15th century CE Lighthouse of Alexandria

The mausoleum of Mausolus, at Bodrum.
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The mausoleum of Mausolus, at Bodrum.

Pharos Lighthouse

Pharos Lighthouse at Alexandria.

List of the greatest human constructions in the ancient world, defined in the 3rd and 2nd century BCE by several writers. The earliest extant text with the list is from around 140 BCE, complied by Antipater of Sidon. By that time, one of the wonders was already destroyed by an earthquake; the Colossus of Helios at Rhodes.
Five out of the seven wonders were located to the Middle East, two in Turkey, two in Egypt and one in Iraq.
The purpose of these lists was tourism, used by travellers within the Hellenistic world. The list reflects the limits of the known world of the Hellenist writers, but it also contains a few surprising omissions. No Egyptian temples and no ziggurats of Mesopotamia
The very oldest of the seven, the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt) is the only one still standing.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Iraq), were according to the story built by Nebuchadnezzar 2 for his wife Amyitis of Media, who was homesick for her mountainous home region. No remains of the gardens have even been located, and historical accounts of the size appear exaggerated. There are no contemporary Babylonian accounts of their existence. Whether the gardens ever existed is a question of speculation.
The temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Turkey) took 120 years to build, and became the largest building of its time. It was burned down by the young man, Herostratus, who committed this in order to achieve lasting fame. He was executed for his crime, the authorities prohibited the mentioning of his name. Still, he did achieve his goal, being mentioned several times in classical, as well as modern, literature.
Mausoleum of Satrap Mausolos at Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum, Turkey) was a construction 45 metres high serving as a tomb for the satrap, and later his wife, Artemisa 2. The mausoleum became an unusually beautiful construction, and was aided by its location; situated in a hill above a beautiful natural seaport. It was destroyed in 1494 by an earthquake, but scant ruins are still in the original place.
Pharos, the lighthouse of Alexandria (Egypt) was between 115 and 135 metres high. Its look has many similarities with early 20th century American skyscrapers. Its purpose is not altogether clear, it appears that it began operating as a lighthouse several hundred years after the construction. Exposed to time and nature, a few earthquakes in the beginning of the 14th century destroyed most of structure. In the late 15th century the remaining structure was reused in the building of a fort on the same location.
Since ancient times, many new lists of the wonders of the world have been created, most seem to adhere to the list being of seven wonders. The Pyramids of Giza is included on most of these lists.




By Tore Kjeilen