Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
While the ancient world left little written record, the evidence that we do have depicts it as far more advanced and culturally rich than many would expect. From the Phoenicians in Mesopotamia to the Mayans in Central America, technological advancements and complex theories drove the ancient civilizations ahead. Great thinkers from that period like Socrates left huge marks on the literary world. Great scientists like Copernicus developed theories that provided the foundations for more modern thought. Juxtaposing their technology with our own, we find their accomplishments truly amazing. Their buildings, remarkably built without cranes, bulldozers, or assembly lines, rival our greatest and create great wonder among our culture. Chief among their architectural feats, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remind us constantly of the ancient cultures’ splendors and advancements. These landmarks, the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria or the Walls of Babylon according to the list, left evidence of the magnificence of the ancient world. Understanding the history of the whole group as well as the history of the individual places creates a gratitude and reverence for our ancient ancestors. Herodotus created the first list of wonders in the fifth century BC but gained little notoriety for the feat and inspired few subsequent lists. His written record, a list mirroring that above with the exception of substituting the Pharos of Alexandria for the Lighthouse, was destroyed with the exception of references in the burning of the Library of Alexandria (History Reference Center). In following centuries, however, Herodotus’s ideas began to catch on. Conquering vast empires in the name of Macedonia, Alexander the Great led a strategic military campaign throughout the Balkans and much of the ancient world. Through these fourth century BC annexations, Alexander stimulated travel in the area, which in turn led to the Greeks gaining immense cultural knowledge about peoples like the Persians, Egyptians, and Babylonians. Alexander truly opened their world. With the influx of travel, the Greeks began and compile oral lists of ‘theamatas,’ a word translated to mean ‘the must-sees’. The lists, though they varied from person to person, always contained a constant number of seven sites. Being neither a product nor factor of any number less than ten, seven is hard to separate into subdivisions and therefore provides an excellent number for indivisible things like the Seven Wonders, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Seven Sages. After Herodotus, the next well-known list is that of Callimachus of Cyrene, a worker at the Library of Alexandria. He wrote a work entitled ‘A Collection of Wonders in Lands throughout the World,’ but destroyed early on, the contents of the list remain unknown. De Septem Mundi Miraculous, or Of the Seven Wonders of the World, was written in 200 BC. Attributed to and supposedly written by Philo of Byzantium, many argue that it was actually written in the sixth century AD (Infoplease). Regardless, this work gives an excellent description of Seven Wonders, including the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Pyramids of Giza, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis and Ephesus, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria. While most lists agree on at least six of the seven wonders, some ancient and modern lists substitute the walls of Babylon for the Lighthouse of Alexandria. The most renowned ancient list, coming around 80 years later, belongs to Antipater of Sidon and does exactly this. A citizen of Alexandria, Egypt, Antipater compiled his list in a poem during the second century BC, saying I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon, along which chariots may race,...
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