Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Colosus of Rhodes

In continuing with the theme of the seven wonders of the ancient world, next I will write on the “Colossus Of Rhodes”. Before I write on the wonder itself, I will first provide some information on the city of Rhodes itself. Rhodes is part of the Dodecanese Islands of the Aegean Sea just Northeast of Crete,today Rhodes has about 50,000 people.

In antiquity Rhodes has a deep rich history that could be written on for days and days, today I will start in about the 500s BC, when the Island was invaded and ruled over by the mighty Persian Empire, in 478BC the Persians were pushed out of Rhodes by forces from the Athenians, shortly after the people of Rhodes joined the Athenian league however Rhodes would remain neutral during the Peloponnesian war from 431BC to 404BC. In 340BC Rhodes would again find itself under the rule of the Persians, this time it would be short lived as in 332BC Rhodes would become part of the growing empire of Alexander the great as he was on his way to defeating and annexing the mighty Persian Empire.

Following the death of Alexander Rhodes would form an alliance with Ptolemy and Rhodo-Egyptian alliance was born as Rhodes turned into a trade super power as coins from Rhodes could be found all over the Mediterranean world. 305BC Demetrius Monophthalmus (of Cyprus) with direction from father laid siege to Rhodes, Ptolemy sent ships with relief forces to back their alliance with Rhodes, in a victory in hand the people of Rhodes were left with very valuable siege equipment left behind and sold this equipment for 300 talents which would be about 2.9million U.S Dollars in todays world.

In 292BC construction began on what would become the Colossus of Rhodes which was a statue dedicated to Helios the Greek titan-god of the sun. It was constructed of iron tie bars with brass plate covering to form its skin as it stood a total of  about 98 feet high on a white marble pedestal near the Mandraki Harbor that by itself stood about 49 feet high.

The image stood as an imposing image for 54 years until Rhodes was hit by a devastating earth quake in 226BC, the earth quake snapped the statue’s knees as it fell over on to the land. Ptolemy the III offered to pay for its reconstruction, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians fearful that they had angered Helios, so they declined to rebuild the image.

The image laid on the ground for 800 years, even in this state it was so impressive that many people still traveled to Rhodes to see the image, as it was said that few people could wrap their arms around its thumb. In 653AD Arab forces under Muslim Caliph Muawiyah I captured Rhodes, then cast down the image and sold off the bronze for an unknown amount of money.

The next blog post will continue this theme as I write on Mausoleum at Hallicarnassus,  I hope you enjoyed this post and will read the next one.

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: LightHouse of Alexandria

Hello everyone,  In my last post I gave you the background on the seven wonders of the ancient world, if you have not read that post yet, then I would encourage you to read that post before you read this one. I am writing a series on the seven wonders and as the title suggests, we will examine the lighthouse of Alexandria in this post.

In the year 332bc Alexander the great of Macedon invaded the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire’s satrapy of Egypt. He (Alexander) visited the Memphis, and traveled the oracle of Amun at the Oasis of Siwa.

The Oracle declared him to be the son Amun, he conciliated the Egyptians by thee respect he showed for their religious believes and their heritage, but, he appointed Macedonians to virtually all the senior posts in Egypt. At this time a new city was founded Greek style city on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea this city would be the new capital of Egypt and would be named by and for its founder, Alexander the great. This city would be and is to this day called Alexandria.

The great wealth of Egypt could now be harnessed by the Macedonians as they embarked on the conquest of the rest of the Persian empire, in 331bc Alexander’s forces would depart for Phoenicia, Alexander would never return to Egypt.

After the death of Alexander, the newly conquest of what was the Persian empire would be divided by the four generals, Ptolemy I Sorter would ascend to gain total control of Egypt and in the year 305bc he founded Ptolemaic Kingdom when he declared himself  Pharaoh of Egypt. The Ptolemaic reign in Egypt is one of the most well documented time period of the Hellenistic Era.

Sometime between the years 280 and 247bc the lighthouse was constructed and its believed to range anywhere from 395 to 450 feet tall, for many centuries it served as the tallest man made structure in the world, a series of earth quakes (3 to be exact) between 956 and 1323AD badly damaged the structure before it became an abandoned ruin, it was third longest surviving member of the ancient wonders, only the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the still existing Great Pyramid of Giza.

In the year 1480AD the last the remnant of stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the very site. In 1994AD French archaeologists discovered some of the remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbor at the end of the Nile Rivers western delta.

As mentioned earlier Alexander the great died of a fever at the age of thirty two (32) when Ptolemy Soter announced himself King in the year 305BC and shortly after commissioned its construction. Ptolemy Soter would not live to see the completion of the Light House, it would be finished under his son Ptolemy II Philadelphus twelve (12) years after its commissioning at a cost 800 talents which would equal $6.720.000 (Six Million, Seven Hundred Twenty Thousand Dollars) in todays U.S Dollars.The Lighthouse of Alexandria would serve as a prototype for all other lighthouses in the world after and to this day.The Lighthouse was said to be constructed mostly from limestone blocks, with the light being produced by a furnace at the top.

I hope you enjoyed this post, I hope you will come back to read my next post as I continue this theme with The seven wonders of the ancient world”  Colossus of Rhodes

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

Recently in my previous posts, I briefly discussed the early Islamic travelers and the surveyors of India, as a surveyor myself I plan to elaborate on that topic in the near future.

Today I want to start a series on the seven wonders of the ancient world, in this series I will discuss each of the wonders individually as well as their fates. In today posts I will discuss the background of the wonders.

In the period of time known as the Hellenistic period particularly in the 1st and 2nd century BC there was numerous guide books produced for the Hellenic tourists of that time period. The seven listed wonders are as follows:

1) Lighthouse of Alexandria

2) Colossus of Rhodes

3) Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

4) Statue of Zeus at Olympia

5) Temple of Artemis

6) Hanging Gardens of Babylon

7) Great Pyramid of Giza

In the year 336BC Phillip of Macedonia was assassinated, shortly thereafter his son would succeed to the throne, his name was Alexander, who later come to be known as Alexander the great. Shortly after taking the throne Alexander having already secured control of Greece thru the efforts of his father Phillip, he began to embark on a conquest of Persia.

Persia at this time was the worlds superpower, Persia had been victorious several mini wars with other Greek city states in the previous one hundred and fifty (150) years. This time Persia would come out on the loosing end as battle after battle Persia would not be able to match forces or wits with Alexander’s forces. In the year 331BC a mere four (4) years after becoming King/General, Alexander’s forces delivered the decisive death blow to the Persian/Achaemenid forces at the battle of Gaugamela. Shortly after this the Persian/Achaemenid empire would be annexed by Hellenistic world.

There will be future posts on these events, this post deals with the seven wonders, so now you know how the Hellenistic world gained exposure to these great monuments, Impressed by these remarkable monuments the Greek travelers referred to these as theamata which means “sights”. There were several lists issued to the tourists of the day, but the best known and earliest surviving was the poem by the Greek-speaking epigrammist Antipater of Sidon from around 140BC who was primarily in praise of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus he wrote his poem this way:

I have gazed on walls of  impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.

Another 2nd century BC observer, who claimed to be the mathematician Philo of Byzantium, wrote a short account entitled The seven sights And later accounts were written by Herodotus.

These ancient marvels serve as a testament to the ingenuity, imagination and sheer work that the human race is capable of. As a surveyor I have interests in Engineering as well and these works are inspirational to me.

Stay tuned for the next post that will be titled “Lighthouse of Alexandria” as I continue my series on the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Surveyors of History

As a surveyor myself, I am always interested in who did my job in the past, in other lands, etc. To map their travels, explorers needed to know the exact location of their starting point. In 1825 William Moorcroft went missing after five years in the Himalayas, though there is conjecture in his achievements, this was the launch pad that led to surveying India. They began with Great Trigonometrical Survey of India, with the measurement of the sub continent along with the 78th meridian, northward from the tip of India, this resulted in the first accurate height of the Himalayas.

Exploring the east coast

A century after Columbus, North America was still unknown although interest was rapidly growing, some believed it was a continent while others remained convinced that it was just a chain of islands. The powers of Europe continued to send explorers across the Atlantic, hoping to gain control of new trade routes. In 1513 Juan Ponce de Le’on who had previously sailed with Columbus took possession of Florida in the name of Spain, thus leading the way to what is now the oldest city in the U.S, St Augustine FL