At the current stage of technological development, it’s easy to forget all the achievements of the ancient world. Human genes don’t change much within a few thousand years, yet we all tend to forget that there used to exist people just as smart as us. A recent Travel Channel article reminds us how the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are prime examples of how extraordinary these old timers could be. Here are a few highlights:
1. The Great Pyramid at Giza in Cairo, Egypt
This is the only surviving member of the Seven Wonders. It was constructed in 2560 B.C. as a tomb for an Egyptian Pharaoh, and it may have taken over 20 years to complete. Each side of the pyramid faces a cardinal point (North, East, South and West). It is made up of 2.3 million blocks of stones, each weighing about 2 tons. It was the tallest structure in the world for more than four millennia.
2. Hanging gardens of Babylon in Al-Hillah, Iraq
Built around 600 B.C., this is said to have been flora-filled terraces raised above another and supported by pillars. In other words, it was an artificial rising mountain of gardens. What makes it especially amazing is the complicated irrigation system that was probably needed to support the structure. The garden was said to be destroyed in the first century B.C. because of an earthquake.
3. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in Selcuk Turkey
The temple was 377 feet long and 180 feet high. It featured 60 foot high statues made of nothing but marble. It was a marketplace and a place of worship, and it housed countless works of art and sculptures.
4. Statue of Zeus at Olympia in Olympia, Greece
The statue of a seated Zeus was forty feet tall, and was carved from ivory and gold-plated accents. His seat was a cedar throne embedded with Jewels. On his right hand, there was the statue of Nike (the goddess of victory). On his left hand, there was a scepter with an eagle on top.
5. Tomb of Maussollos at Halicarnassus in Southwestern Turkey
The tomb was built to hold the remains of a Persian king and his wife in 353 B.C.. The tomb was 135 feet high, with an ornamented exterior. Soon any tomb that was large and impressive would be described as “mausoleum.” Multiple earthquakes in the 14th century led to the destruction of the tomb.
6. Colossus at Rhodes in Rhodes, Greece
This was a 100-feet tall structure of the Greek God Helios, built on the island of Rhodes around 280 B.C. It was made to celebrate a successful defense of the island against an invasion. The statue was destroyed in 226 B.C., only 54 years after it was built.
7. Lighthouse of Alexandria at Pharos Island, Alexandria, Egypt
The lighthouse measured between 383 feet and 450 feet high. It was built with light-colored stone, and its highest point was used to reflect or emit light. During the day, it used a mirror to reflect sunlight and during the night it put up fire to emit light. It is said that this light could be seen from 35 miles away.
It’s a bit unsettling to think that six of these seven great achievements were destroyed. I can’t imagine how much revenue the tourism industry lost because of it. Poor guys.