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The Seven Ancient Wonders

Written by Tamara Mouchette


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Alas, our next Ancient Wonder was not quite as lucky as the mausoleum, for nothing remains of it’s wondrous creation but in script. This wonder is The Colossus of Rhodes. The giant statue of Helios the sun-god was created to honor the God for helping the inhabitants of Rhodes stand against enemy invaders. It was dedicated to him with an inscription that read:

To you, O sun, the people of Dorian Rhodes set up this bronze statue reaching to Olympus when they had pacified the waves of war and crowned their city with spoils taken from the enemy. Not only over the seas but also on land did they kindle the lovely torch of freedom.

The Colossus was created by a Rhodian sculptor, Chares of Lindos. Chares created this masterpiece by creating an iron and stone framework that was then covered with an outer layer of bronze skin, all of which stood on top of a base of white marble. It took twelve years to create and was finished in 282 BC. In it's grandeur, it reached into the sky for 110 feet, imposing its greatness on the population of Rhodes. Unfortunately, nature decided that Helios had graced the world long enough after a mere 56 years, and an extremely powerful earthquake brought the Colossus to the ground around 226 BC. It was never repaired and in 654 AD, invading Arabs sold the entire remains of the Colossus to a Jew from Syria. Whatever happened to those pieces? Did they survive someway and somewhere that has not been discovered yet? Only time, and perhaps the Jew’s descendants, can tell.

Last, but not least of the Seven Ancient Wonders, is The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Lighthouse was conceived by Ptolemy Soter to alert ships of the shores presence, and to also be a structure from which Alexandria’s enemies could be spotted before they reached the harbor. Construction of this remarkable creation began while Ptolemy Soter still ruled in 290 BC. It was not until after his death, during the reign of his son Ptolemy Philadelphus, that the lighthouse was finished. The architect was Sostratus, but because of the intricate mirror that was to be placed in the lighthouse to act as a beacon, individuals at the Alexandria Library/ Mouseion did the actual detailed calculations for the structure. When completed, the Lighthouse became the tallest structure during this time period, and stood an amazing 384 feet high. A statue of Poseidon graced the summit of the building to bring it good fortune.

Even though Arabs had conquered Alexandria, the Lighthouse remained untouched until two earthquakes caused substantial damage to the great structure in 1303 AD and 1323 AD. Finally, in 1480 AD, Egyptian Mamelouk Sulton, Qaitbay, decided to fortify Alexandria’s defenses by errecting a fort on the same spot as the lighthouse; using the stone and marble from its rubble to help construct the fort. Thanks to Abou-Haggag Al-Andaloussi who visited the Lighthouse in 1166 AD and documented this fascinating structure in detail, it was not altogether lost. With the information from what he wrote, archeologists were able to accurately reconstruct this famous wonder.

These Seven Ancient Wonders are part of the world's history. Although we do have quite a bit of information on each one, there remains an avid aura of mystery surrounding them all that may never be solved. How can incorporating a historical wonder; or a world wonder of your own creation, enhance your game setting? Wonders add a degree of mystery to your game. Figuring out who built it, for what purpose it was built, and the passage into and out of the wonder could possibly become an adventure itself. If you cannot find a wonder that peaks your curiousity, try creating one of your own. The more developed the wonder becomes, the more intriguing your storyline; resulting in a greater involvement from your players. Try avoiding regular temples and ruins by deviating on a simpler idea and creating a temple whose corridors change positions hour by hour in a certain sequence. This challenges the player and keeps them interested in the adventure.

There is a enormous amount of information available on each one of the Seven Ancient Wonders that can be used in a game setting. What you previewed above is just a summary of each one. If you would like to know more about this subject, here are some additional sites you can visit:

http://ce.eng.usf.edu/pharos/wonders
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pyramid
http://www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

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