The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World


Egyptian Pyramids

Since ancient times, people have put together many “seven wonders” lists. Examples include the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and the Seven Natural Wonders of the U.S. The content of these lists tends to vary, and none is definitive. The original list of seven wonders is the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which is made up of a selection of ancient architectural and sculptural accomplishments. The seven wonders that are most widely agreed upon as being in the original list are outlined below.

The Pyramids of Egypt

A group of three pyramids, Khufu, Khafra, and Menkaura located at Giza, Egypt, outside modern Cairo, is often called the first wonder of the world. The largest pyramid, built by Khufu (Cheops), a king of the fourth dynasty, had an original estimated height of 482 feet (now approximately 450 feet). The base has sides 755 feet long. It contains 2,300,000 blocks. The average weight of each block is 2.5 tons. Estimated date of construction is 2680 B.C. Of all the Ancient Wonders, the pyramids is the only one still standing.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Often listed as the second wonder, these gardens, which were located south of Baghdad, Iraq, were supposedly built by Nebuchadnezzar around 600 B.C. to please his queen, Amuhia. They are also associated with the mythical Assyrian queen, Semiramis. Archeologists think that the gardens were laid out atop a vaulted building, with provisions for raising water. The terraces were said to rise from 75 to 300 feet.

Statue of Zeus (Jupiter) at Olympia

Phidias (fifth century B.C.) built this 40-foot high statue in gold and ivory. All trace of it is lost, except for reproductions on coins. It was located in Olympia, Greece.

Temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus

The temple was a beautiful marble structure, begun about 350 B.C., in honor of the goddess Artemis. The temple, with Ionic columns 60 feet high, was destroyed by invading Goths in A.D. 262. It was located in Ephesus, Turkey.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

This famous monument was erected in Bodium, Turkey, by Queen Artemisia in memory of her husband, King Mausolus of Caria in Asia Minor, who died in 353 B.C. Some remains of the structure are in the British Museum. This shrine is the source of the modern word “mausoleum,” which is a large above-ground tomb.

Colossus at Rhodes

This bronze statue of Helios (Apollo), about 105 feet high, was the work of the sculptor Chares. He worked on the statue for 12 years, finishing it in 280 B.C. It was destroyed during an earthquake in 224 B.C. Rhodes is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea.

Pharos of Alexandria

The seventh wonder was the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria. Sostratus of Cnidus built the Pharos during the third century B.C. on the island of Pharos off the coast of Egypt. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the thirteenth century.

(See also: Seven Ancient Wonders Slideshow, Seven New Wonders, The Seven Wonders of the Modern World.)


Famous Buildings and StructuresFamous Buildings and StructuresThe Seven Wonders of the Modern World

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