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The Seven Ancient Wonders

Written by Tamara Mouchette

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Next on the list of the Seven Ancient Wonders is the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Acclaimed to be the most beautiful structure of it’s time, it was also known as the Great Marble Temple. Built in 550 BC to honor and worship the Greek Goddess of hunting and wild nature, Artemis, it also served as a marketplace when not in use as a religious institute. The creation of the temple was sponsored by the Lydian King Croesus and designed by Chersiphron, a Greek architect. The temple was home to a multitude of art pieces, guarded by four bronzed sculptures of Amazons created by four highly respected sculptors of that time; Pheidias, Polycleitus, Kresilas, and Phradmon. All this intricate beauty was surrounded by 127 pillars; which was considered to be an architects imagining on what connected the lowly world with the bright heavens above. Early descriptions of the temple have allowed archeologists to somewhat ressurect the temple, but without knowing the exact artistic details, the true beauty of this great wonder is perhaps lost to us indefinitely.

One of the greatest works of Greek sculpture, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, is another of the Seven Ancient Wonders. Created in 450 BC by Pheidias, an Anthenian sculptor, the statue was created for the sole purpose of worshipping the Greek Father of Gods, Zeus. A countless number of individuals came from great distances to pay homage and bring gifts to the omnipotent God. Pheidias representation of Zeus was inspiring. The statue itself stood 40 feet, and in its entirety, it appeared too large for the temple that was built to house it. Its grandeur added to its size, resulted in giving the statue an aura of power that fit the embodiement of the Father of the Gods. A Greek writer, Pausanias, describes the statue in a little more detail:

“On his head is a sculpted wreath of olive sprays. In his right hand he holds a figure of Victory made from ivory and gold...In his left hand, he holds a sceptre inlaid with every kind of metal, with an eagle perched on the sceptre. His sandals are made of gold, as is his robe. His garments are carved with animals and with lilies. The throne is decorated with gold, precious stones, ebony, and ivory.”

Although numerous copies were made of this grandiose statue, unfortunately, none of them stood up to the passage of time long enough to grace our own. Currently, all that remains of this magnificent work of art and the temple that housed it is rocks and debris, the foundation, and fallen columns.

The Ancient Wonder that was constructed in 350 BC was the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Although the resting place of King Maussollos cannot compete with the Great Pyramid of Khufu in size, it far outshown it in beauty. The concept of a extrordinary resting place came from King Maussollos’s wife and sister, Artemisia; and although construction began while he was still alive, it was not completed until three years after his death. What makes this tomb so fascinating and unique is the number of sculptures that decorated it. The roof of the tomb was graced with a statue of a chariot pulled by four horses. A multitude of statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals were placed strategically around the outside of the temple on different levels of the podium. The Greek sculptors responsible for these outstanding respresentations of life were; Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas, and Timotheus.

The Mausoleum graced Halicarnassus, today known as Bodrum, for 16 centuries. It was then that the Mausoleum could no longer keep time and mother nature from touching it's awesome beauty. An earthquake caused structural damage to the roof and colonnade, but at least it still stood; that is, until the Knights of St. Paul of Malta disassembled it to use the stones to fortify their enormous crusader castle in the early 15th century. Currently, the castle still stands and the polished stone and marble blocks from the mausoleum can still be seen among the other stones that helped build the castles great walls. A number of the sculptures also survived, and are now on display at the British Museum in London.

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