The Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World - A.W.

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n ancient times, monuments and structures with the power to redefine environments or landscapes gained renown. The classical era (roughly 8th century BCE to 5th century CE) produced seven of these, noted by travellers and sightseers of the times who roamed the shores of the Mediterranean. The ancient Greek poet Antipater of Sidon included  the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World in a poem written around 140 BCE and is thereby  credited with naming them: 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 Mausollos at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the  Pharos or Lighthouse of Alexandria. Of these  seven, only the Great Pyramid of Giza remains.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Built by the Egyptians between 2650 and 2500 BCE and therefore the oldest of the Seven Wonders, the Great Pyramid of Giza is the only one that still stands. It is believed to be the tomb of the pharaoh Khufu or Cheops, who ruled between 2589 and 2566 BCE, the second pharaoh of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty. This dynasty is known for pyramid building, with its founder Sneferu—Khufu’s father—commissioning at least three pyramids during his reign. At a height of 480 feet, the pharaoh Khufu’s tomb remained the tallest structure in the world until 1300 CE, when it was surpassed by the soaring spire of the Lincoln Cathedral in England.

The Great Pyramid, or Pyramid of Khufu, rests on the Giza Plateau just outside Cairo, Egypt, in a complex called the Giza Necropolis. Included within the necropolis are the Pyramid of Khafre (Chephran) and the Pyramid of Menkaura (Mykerinus), as well as the lesser pyramids of queens. Watching over all, is the Great Sphinx, the head of which some current-day Egyptologists believe to be a representation of the pharaoh Khufu; others claim the likeness is of his son, Khafre. One of the smaller pyramids contains the tomb of Khufu’s mother Hetepheres, who was both a sister to and a wife of Khufu’s father, Sneferu.

Some believe that the architect of the Great Pyramid of Giza was Hemon (Hemiunu), who was Khufu’s vizier. Typically, viziers were top executives in ancient Egyptian culture who controlled taxation. Considering the resources needed to construct a single pyramid, a vizier was perhaps in the perfect position to accomplish the task. Scholars and  scientists estimate that Khufu’s pyramid consists of more than 2 million blocks of limestone taken from a nearby quarry, with each block weighing an average of 4 tons and some weighing as much as 15 tons. Blocks of granite that weighed as much as 80 tons were brought from Aswan for the pharaoh’s inner chamber. Although various theories have been proposed as to how these pyra-mids might have been built, not knowing how they actually came to be constructed does not diminish the finished masterpieces that resulted. The Great Pyramid was so brilliantly constructed that, to this day, even a piece of paper cannot be slipped between the stones. The fact that this wonder of the ancient world is both the oldest of the seven and the only one that has withstood the ravages of time speaks unequivocally to its prominence in the history of the world.

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Hanging Gardens of Babylon

A woman’s longing for the trees of her homeland may be the reason that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon made it to the Greeks’ list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Near the present-day Iraqi city of Al Hillah, these gardens and the walls of Babylon were built around 600 BCE by Nebuchadnezzar II, reportedly for his wife, Amytis of Media, who left her Iranian home when she married the king of Babylon. Whether Amytis planted the seed or whether King Nebuchadnezzar simply followed his father’s lead, he created more —1151 ...

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