Seven Wonders

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World 

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Great Pyramid of Giza

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were:

  1. the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt
  2. the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  3. the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece
  4. the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  5. the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  6. the Colossus of Rhodes
  7. the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt

The Seven Wonders were first defined as themata (Greek for 'things to be seen' which, in today's common English, we would phrase as 'must-sees') by Philo of Byzantium in 225 BCE, in his work On The Seven Wonders. Other writers on the Seven Wonders include Herodotus, Callimachus of Cyrene, and Antipater of Sidon. Of the original seven, only the Great Pyramid exists today

Nina at the Norwegian bokmål language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
The Great Pyramid at Giza was constructed between 2584 and 2561 BCE for the Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu (known in Greek as 'Cheops') and was the tallest manmade structure in the world for almost 4,000 years. Excavations of the interior of the pyramid were only initiated in earnest in the late 18th and early 19th centuries CE and so the intricacies of the interior which so intrigue modern people were unknown to the ancient writers. It was the structure itself with its perfect symmetry and imposing height which impressed ancient visitors.

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). The Seven Wonders. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, if they existed as described, were built by Nebuchadnezzar II between 605-562 BCE as a gift to his wife. They are described by the ancient writer Diodorus Siculus as being self-watering planes of exotic flora and fauna reaching a height of over 75 feet (23 m) through a series of climbing terraces. Diodorus wrote that Nebuchadnezzar's wife, Amtis of Media, missed the mountains and flowers of her homeland and so the king commanded that a mountain be created for her in Babylon. The controversy over whether the gardens existed comes from the fact that they are nowhere mentioned in Babylonian history and that Herodotus, 'the Father of History', makes no mention of them in his descriptions of Babylon. There are many other ancient facts, figures, and places Herodotus fails to mention, however, or has been shown to be wrong about. Diodorus, Philo, and the historian Strabo all claim the gardens existed. They were destroyed by an earthquake sometime after the 1st century CE.

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). The Seven Wonders. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
Assyrian_Relief_of_the_Banquet_of_Ashurbanipal_From_Nineveh_Gypsum_N_Palace_British_Museum_01Allan Gluck, CC BY 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Assyrian Relief of the Banquet of Ashurbanipal From Nineveh N Palace, Gypsum, British Museum. Ashurbanipal reclines on a banqueting couch beneath an arbor of vines, facing his queen, shown seated on a throne. His sword, quiver, and bow lie on a table at right, signaling his military prowess. Attendants fan the royal couple while musicians play in the background. In a gruesome detail, the severed head of the Elamite king Teumman, killed in Battle against Ashurbanipal's army eight years earlier, hangs from a tree branch at left - another reminder of the Assyrian king's ruthless pursuit of power and empire. Ashurbanipal and his queen Libbali-sharrat depicted dining. The severed head of Elamite King Teumman is hanging in a tree to the left.[1] An Egyptian necklace hangs from the curved angle of the couch, probable symbol of his conquests in Egypt.[2] A bow with a quiver are exposed on the table, probable symbol of his conquest in Elam.[2] This relief is associated with another fragment showing the humiliation of an Elamite king forced to serve food to Ashurbanipal.[2]British Museum BM 124920.[3]

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was created by the great Greek sculptor Phidias (known as the finest sculptor of the ancient world in the 5th century BCE, he also worked on the Parthenon and the statue of Athena there in Athens). The statue depicted the god Zeus seated on his throne, his skin of ivory and robes of hammered gold, and was 40 feet (12 m) tall, designed to inspire awe in the worshippers who came to the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Not everyone was awestruck by the statue, however. Strabo reports:

Although the temple itself is very large, the sculptor is criticized for not having appreciated the correct proportions. He has shown Zeus seated, but with the head almost touching the ceiling, so that we have the impression that if Zeus moved to stand up he would unroof the temple. (Seven Wonders)

The Temple at Olympia fell into ruin after the rise of Christianity and the ban on the Olympic Games as 'pagan rites'. The statue was carried off to Constantinople where it was later destroyed, sometime in either the 5th or 6th centuries CE, by an earthquake.

Quincy, D. (2016, July 28). Statue of Zeus, Olympia. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Original image by de Quincy. Uploaded by Mark Cartwright, published on 28 July 2016 under the following license: Public Domain. This item is in the public domain, and can be used, copied, and modified without any restrictions. 5417

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

model of the temple of artemis

Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). The Seven Wonders. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Ephesos), a Greek colony in Asia Minor, took over 120 years to build and only one night to destroy. Completed in 550 BCE, the temple was 425 feet (about 129 m) long, 225 feet (almost 69 m) wide, supported by 127 60-foot (about 18 m) high columns. Sponsored by the wealthy King Croesus of Lydia, who spared no expense in anything he did (according to Herodotus, among others) the temple was so magnificent that every account of it is written with the same tone of awe and each agrees with the other that this was among the most amazing structures ever raised by humans. On July 21, 356 BCE a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in order, as he said, to achieve lasting fame by forever being associated with the destruction of something so beautiful. The Ephesians decreed that his name should never be recorded nor remembered, but Strabo set it down as a point of interest in the history of the temple. On the same night the temple burned, Alexander the Great was born and, later, offered to rebuild the ruined temple, but the Ephesians refused his generosity. It was rebuilt on a less grand scale after Alexander's death but was destroyed by the invasion of the Goths. Rebuilt again, it was finally destroyed utterly by a Christian mob lead by Saint John Chrysostom in 401 CE.

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Mark, J. J. (2009, September 02). The Seven Wonders. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from


Durant, W. The Life of Greece. Simon & Schuster, 1954. 

Jordan, P. Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Longman, 2002. 

Nagle, D. B. The Ancient World. Pearson, 2009. 

Written by Joshua J. Mark, published on 02 September 2009 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms.