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Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the World or the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is a list of remarkable constructions of classical antiquity given by various authors in guidebooks or poems popular among ancient Hellenic tourists. Although the list, in its current form, did not stabilise until the Renaissance, the first such lists of seven wonders date from the 1st-2nd century BC. The original list inspired innumerable versions through the ages, often listing seven entries. Of the original Seven Wonders, only one—the Great Pyramid of Giza, the oldest of the ancient wonders—remains relatively intact. The Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus were all destroyed. The location and ultimate fate of the Hanging Gardens are unknown, with speculation that they may not have existed at all.

The Greek conquest of much of the known western world in the 4th century BC gave Hellenistic travellers access to the civilizations of the Egyptians, Persians, and Babylonians. Impressed and captivated by the landmarks and marvels of the various lands, these travellers began to list what they saw to remember them.

Instead of "wonders", the ancient Greeks spoke of "theamata" (θεάματα), which means "sights", in other words "things to be seen" (Τὰ ἑπτὰ θεάματα τῆς οἰκουμένης [γῆς] Tà heptà theámata tēs oikoumenēs [gēs]). Later, the word for "wonder" ("thaumata" θαύματα, "wonders") was used. Hence, the list was meant to be the Ancient World's counterpart of a travel guidebook.

The first reference to a list of seven such monuments was given by Diodorus Siculus. The epigrammist Antipater of Sidon who lived around or before 100 BC, gave a list lists seven such monuments, including six of the present list (substituting the walls of Babylon for the lighthouse):

Name Date of construction Builders Date of destruction Cause of destruction Modern location
Great Pyramid of Giza 2584–2561 BC Egyptians Still in existence, majority of façade gone Giza Necropolis, Egypt
29°58′45.03″N 31°08′03.69″E / 29.9791750°N 31.1343583°E / 29.9791750; 31.1343583 (Great Pyramid of Giza)
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
(existence unresolved)
c. 600 BC (evident) Babylonians or Assyrians After 1st century AD Unknown Hillah or Nineveh, Iraq
32°32′08″N 44°25′39″E / 32.5355°N 44.4275°E / 32.5355; 44.4275 (Hanging Gardens of Babylon)
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus c. 550 BC; and again at 323 BC Greeks, Lydians 356 BC (by Herostratus)
AD 262 (by the Goths)
Arson by Herostratus, plundering Near Selçuk, Turkey
37°56′59″N 27°21′50″E / 37.94972°N 27.36389°E / 37.94972; 27.36389 (Temple of Artemis at Ephesus)
Statue of Zeus at Olympia 466–456 BC (temple)
435 BC (statue)
Greeks 5th–6th centuries AD Disassembled and reassembled at Constantinople; later destroyed by fire Olympia, Greece
37°38′16.3″N 21°37′48″E / 37.637861°N 21.63000°E / 37.637861; 21.63000 (Statue of Zeus at Olympia)
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus 351 BC Greeks,Persians, Carians 12th–15th century AD Earthquakes Bodrum, Turkey
37°02′16″N 27°25′27″E / 37.0379°N 27.4241°E / 37.0379; 27.4241 (Mausoleum at Halicarnassus)
Colossus of Rhodes 292–280 BC Greeks 226 BC 226 BC Rhodes earthquake Rhodes, Greece
36°27′04″N 28°13′40″E / 36.45111°N 28.22778°E / 36.45111; 28.22778 (Colossus of Rhodes)
Lighthouse of Alexandria c. 280 BC Greeks, Ptolemaic Egyptians AD 1303–1480 1303 Crete earthquake Alexandria, Egypt
31°12′50″N 29°53′08″E / 31.21389°N 29.88556°E / 31.21389; 29.88556 (Lighthouse of Alexandria)

  • D'Epiro, Peter, and Mary Desmond Pinkowish, "What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists". Anchor. 1 December 1998.
  • The Seven Wonders of the World, a History of Modern Imagination written by John and Elizabeth Romer in 1995
  • The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World edited by Peter Clayton and Martin Price in 1988
  • Johann Conrad Orelli (ed.) Philonis Byzantini Libellus de septem orbis spectaculis. 1816. The original travel guide by Pseudo-Philo
  • Lendering, Jona (2007–2010). "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World". Livius.Org. 


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