Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon is the final wonder I will be discussing in this series on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Hanging Gardens are perhaps the most enchanting of the bunch because it is the only member of the seven wonders whose location is not entirely known.

What we do know about the Hanging Gardens is that they were an important feature of ancient Babylon and a great source of pride to the people of the city. They are believed to have been built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in 600 BC, and according to legend, the King built them for his Median wife, Queen Amytis, when she expressed feeling homesick for the green hills and valleys of where she grew up.

The gardens are thought to have been impressively engineered, with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and, vines. Upon completion, it is said to have resembled a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks.

Some speculate that they once stood in the ancient city of Babylon near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq. A Babylonian priest named Berossus wrote about them in 290 BC, but there are no extant Babylonian texts which mention the gardens, and no definitive archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon.

Since there is no hard evidence that the Gardens ever existed, some believe they are simply a myth that has persisted for thousands of years. If it did in fact ever exist, it would have been destroyed after the first century AD. Some think the stories of the gardens may have been confused with another well-documented garden that the Assyrian king Sennacherib (704–681 BC) built in his capital city of Nineveh on the River Tigris, near the modern city of Mosul. Unfortunately this is a mystery lost to time, but it’s always fun to imagine the grandness that this once important site could have been to behold.

Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World: The Great Pyramid Of Egypt

One of the greatest and methodical man made structures ever, The Great Pyramid’s of Egypt are truly a wonder of the ancient, and now modern world. The 450 foot high, 756 foot long on all four sides structure is one of the heaviest of the wonders. Composed of 2,300,000 bricks, each of which is averaging two and a half tons, placed methodically makes up the colossal structure. They are located in Giza, Egypt near the Sphinx. The biggest of the Pyramids is the Khafre Pyramid which was for Pharaoh Khufu’s son.

These pyramids are used as burial chambers for Kings and Queens in the BC era. Not only were these pyramids built to show power of each royal family, but also a way for these families to bury their most prized possessions when they pass.  With gold, money, and other possessions buried, it was understood that grave robbers would take their chances in entering these tombs and raiding them for all their worth. These pyramids have traps and loopholes to confuse grave robbers and trap them in the depths of the chambers.

what confuses many to this day is how such heavy slabs were lifted to create a pyramid without modern day technology or machinery. Thousands of slaves would work around the clock constructing levy systems which manually lifted these massive slabs perfectly into position. Thousands died due to heat, and physical damage on the body.

Even though some of the smaller pyramids have not passed the test of time, the main, giant structures still remain in tact, not as sturdy or beautiful as before, but still impressive.

For more on ancient history, please visit Matthew D. McGrath’s Official Website.

Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World: The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

Goddess Artemis of Ephesus

Continuing on our venture to cover the Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World, the next stop is The Temple of Artemis. Located in Ephesus, which is present day Turkey, this temple is dedicated to the Goddess, Artemis. Historian believe the temple was built around 800 B.C. near the mashy waters of the Ephesus River.

Artemis, also known as Diana is known as the goddess of fertility and life. In pictures and sculptures she is often draped with eggs and/or multiple breasts to exemplify her symbol as the goddess of fertility. Even though the temple is not much of a landmark today, when it was first constructed and in its peak, the temple was a symbol of pride and was dealt with great respect. While the temple was standing, the city of Ephesus became a major port for trade and a hub for great architecture. With such great architecture and trade going in and out of Ephesus, the temple eventually lost its glory and started to deteriorate due to the lack of maintenance done.

Since the growth or trade in Ephesus as explained by UN Museum, “This temple didn’t last long. According to one story in 550 B.C., King Croesus of Lydia conquered Ephesus and the other Greek cities of Asia Minor and during the fighting, the temple was destroyed. An archeological examination of the site, however, suggests that a major flood hit the temple site at about the same time and may have been the actual cause of the destruction. In either case, the victorious Croesus proved himself a gracious new ruler by contributing generously to the building of a replacement temple.”

Despite the lack in popularity of the once majestic temple, it will always be noted as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

For more history information and news, please visit Matthew D McGrath‘s official website.

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.