present day: The Great Pyramid of Giza.
What were these wonders and how were they destroyed? Well, it goes like this:
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (356 BC)
The Temple of Artemis was completed in 550 BC at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey). The temple took 120 years to construct and was made almost entirely of marble.
As the name suggests, the temple was dedicated to the Greek goddess of Artemis, the virginal goddess of the Moon and twin of Apollo.
In a tragedy that would often be repeated in modern times, a man
called Herostratus destroyed the temple in an act of arson. His
sole motivation was to become famous. The term "herostratic fame" is still used today to describe similar acts.
Herostratus was sentenced to death and the government made it
punishable by death for anyone to say his name. Despite this, writers later published his name and Herostratus's goal of being recorded by history was realized.
Alexander the Great was supposedly born the day the temple burned. As the legend goes, the goddess Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's birth to save her burning temple.
After that the temple went through a series of reconstructions and destructions:
- Rebuilt after Alexander's death in 323 BC
- Destroyed by the Goths in 268 AD
- Reconstructed in the 3rd century AD
- Finally, in 401 AD the temple was destroyed by a mob of Christians led by St. John Chrysostom and its marble was used in construction of other buildings.
Today, only the foundation of the temple remains.
Colossus of Rhodes (226 BC)
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios that towered over the harbor at the Greek city of Rhodes.
The statue took 12 years to construct and was completed in 280 BC. It stood for only 56 years before being destroyed in a great earthquake in 226 BC. The statue snapped at the knees and fell over on the land. Much of the city of Rhodes was also destroyed by the quake. There were offers to fund its reconstruction but the town's people feared that the statue had angered the god Helios and the statue lay where it fell for more than 800 years. Finally, it was sold to a Jewish merchant for scrap and transported away on 900 camels.
Hanging Gardens of Babylon (200 BC)
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were built by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC on the banks of the River Euphrates about 50 km south of present day Baghdad. It was said that the king constructed the gardens to please his wife who missed the great trees and fragrant flowers in her Persian homeland.
Strangely, most of what we know comes from Greek accounts of the gardens and Babylonian writings of the period don't mention them.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were destroyed by several earthquakes sometime after the second century BC.
Statue of Zeus at Olympia (500 AD)
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was crafted by the Greek sculptor Phidias in 432 BC at the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. The 12 meter (43 feet) tall statue was made of ivory and bronze. It was gold-plated and inlaid with precious stones. The first century Greek philosopher Dio Chrysostom declared that one glimpse of the statue would make a man forget all his earthly troubles.
The Roman Emperor Caligula ordered that significant statues of Greek gods including of Zeus at Olympia be brought to Rome and beheaded. Caligula was assassinated in AD 41 before the orders were carried out.
The circumstances of the statue's destruction are a source of debate: it may have been destroyed when the temple of Zeus burned in 425 AD or it may have been taken to Constantinople and destroyed in a great fire there in 475 AD.
Lighthouse of Alexandria (1480 AD)
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was was completed in 247 BC after 67 years of construction on the island of Pharos Egypt. For centuries it was the tallest man made structure on earth at between 140 meters (460 feet).
It was said that its light could be seen by ships 47 kilometers away (29 miles). Legends even claimed its great lights could burn enemy ships as they approached the shore.
The lighthouse was badly damaged in a series of earthquakes beginning in 956. Its ruins stood for centuries before being torn down in 1480 to make way for a medieval fort.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus 1494 AD
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was constructed in 350 BC near present day Bodrum, Turkey. The structure stood approximately 45 meters (148 feet) high and was adorned with statues of people, lions and other animals at various levels of the complex. The temple is unique in Greek history because it was not dedicated to an Ancient Greek god.
The finished structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that invaders dare not destroy it. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC and even survived four years of pirate attacks starting in 62 BC. In fact, the temple stood untouched overlooking the ruins of the city for sixteen centuries until it was destroyed by a series of earthquakes around 1404 AD.