Humankind has been able to create amazing monuments and constructions throughout history. Seven of the structures built between 2700 and 270 BC were designated as Seven wonders of the ancient world. Some are still around today, while others have vanished.
History of seven wonders
Before Greek civilization, Western Europe was dominated by small kingdoms and tribes. As a result, many people only travel for military causes. Under the Greeks, however, a single ruler began to dominate over much of the western world. As a result, trade began to increase, and merchants, priests, and soldiers began to move between the civilizations of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and Babylonia. The amazing architecture they encountered in various towns wowed and awed these travelers. After a while, these passengers began to make a list of what they observed in order to remember it.
Seven of these magnificent structures are regarded must-sees or must-reads for each traveler. In guidebooks and poems, a number of ancient authors described the beauty and glory of these magnificent structures and monuments. These classical antiquities were known as themata in ancient Greece, which meant “things to be seen.” Later, the writers used the word “wonder” (“thaumata”) instead.
Following are those seven wonders of the ancient world
- the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
- the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
- the Colossus of Rhodes
- the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
- the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Where did they locate?
Five out of these seven wonders of the ancient world were situated around ancient Greece and its surrounding territories. These buildings are known not only for their magnificence but also for the time spent on them, their unique beauty, and the human skills they display. Hence, they were considered as main attractions that any cultural person must read or see.
Who created the list of seven wonders of the ancient world?
The first creator of the list of seven wonders is anonymous. However, existing records are found from the 2nd century BC onwards. Antipater of Sidon, an ancient Greek poet of the second half of the 2nd century BC, described these wonders in one of his poems. He states,
“I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.”Antipater of Sidon
Here he has mentioned six from the conventional list of ancient wonders and has replaced the walls of Babylon for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. Philo of Byzantium in the second century BC also put together a list of wonders. He mentioned these attractions in his document today, know as Palatinus 398. Sadly, the surviving manuscript is incomplete and it does not contain the last page. However, with what left historians concluded, his list is also similar to Antipater’s list.
Later, Greek historian Herodotus (484 BC – 425 BC) and the poet Callimachus of Cyrene (305 BC–240 BC) have also mentioned these wonders in the ancient world in their records. However, today these records are not persisted. Hence, we can only find the mentions only as references in other works. With time, authors considered the lighthouse of Alexandria as the 7th wonder instead of the walls of Babylon.
How many of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still exist?
The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only original Seven Wonder that has survived to this day. Earthquakes destroyed the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and the Colossus of Rhodes. The Zeus Statue and the Temple of Artemis were also destroyed by fire. Furthermore, the Hanging Garden’s current position is uncertain. Despite the fact that most of the original wonders no longer exist, legends about their majesty and beauty have remained among mankind.