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Seven Wonders of Ancient World/Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

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“…the south and the north sides have a length of 63 feet; on the fronts is shorter. Perimeter full is 440 feet(130,41 meters); in height it reaches 25 cubits(11,10 meters) and it is sorrounded by 36 columns; perimeter of the colonnade is called pteron; Scopas sculpted the eastern side,Bryaxis the northern side,Timotheos the southern side and Leochares the western one but before they completed the work, the queen died. However they didn’t leave their work until it was completed,they decided that it would be a monument both for their glory and for their art so even today they compete with one another. One fifth artist worked there. Upon pteron stands a pyramid as high as the lowest part of the building which has 24 steps and progressively tapering down to the tip: on the top quadriga of marble sculpted by Piti. If you understand even this the set includes a height of about 140 feet(41,50 meters)”

With these words Pliny the Elder described Mausoleum of Halicarnassus,one of the seven wonders of ancient world. Who built such great work and why? The buildings was strongly desired by Artemisia,wife as well as sister of Mausolus which was Satrap of Caria. Satraps were rulers of various regions of ancient persian   empirers said just “satrapies”,while Caria was an ancient region of Anatolia. Mausoleum had to honor the memory of deceased Mausolus. At his death Artemisia was so heartbroken that regardless of cost ordered the construction of such huge monumental tomb. The greatness and magnificence of this work was such that since then all large tombs were called just“mausoleums.”

The story tells that Artemisia was so distraught after the death of her husband/brother Mausolus who ordered herself a beverage with ashes and chopped bones of his husband; this episode was celebrated by a famous painting of dutch painter Rembrandt. Unluckly Artemisia was not able to see the work completed since she died two years before several artists called to work at mausoleum were able to complete such colossal tomb. Artemisia was queen of Caria since she succedeed to her husband  Mausolus and even she was buried in those monumental mausoleum that her eyes never managed to contemplate.   

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus,possible appearance

Several artists were called to build the great tomb among which Pythius of Priene who was architect which invented the structure. He couldn’t do it by himself of course also because he was involved with a colossal work whose total height was close to 42 meters! At his side had several collaborators as artists and sculptors among which the most important were Bryaxis,Leochares,Timotheus and Scopas.

Such magnificent work was composed by 117 ionic columns placed on two rows that supported the roof in the shape of step pyramid where it was placed a sculpture of a quadriga with effigies of king and queen. Just imagine that total number of statues in the whole work included about 444 pieces! 

Mausoleum was designed to last forever indeed under the base there was a intricate drainage system created specifically to keep a dry soil and therefore to provide to entire structure higher resistence. In fact Mausoleum was extraordinary resistant so much that it resisted to several invasions and subsequent destructions of the city-state of Halicarnassus,from Alexander the Great,Barbarian and Arab.

Unfortunately Mausoleum of Halicarnassus could do nothing against power of nature and it was wiped out by a terrible earthquake in 1404 b.C. Some remains are visible nowadays in the British Museum of London especially the remains of horses and quadriga located on the top of structure.

Nowadays Halicarnassus doesn’t exist anymore and it is the modern city of Bodrum,in the modern-day Turkey, where you can visit the ruins of what was once one of the seven wonders of ancient world which had to celebrate the everlasting memory of ruler Mausolus and his wife/sister Artemisia,but that surrendered for ever to the unstoppable power of nature.

Ruins of Mausoleum of Halicarnassus,Bodrum

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