Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall at sunset

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are another wonder of the ancient world, built by King Nebuchadnezzar about 600 BC. His wife, Amytis, daughter of the king of Medes, was depressed by the brown sun-baked plains of Mesopotamia and longed for the green hills and fragrant plants of her homeland.

A series of tiers were built, with terraces on every level. The gardens probably didn't actually "hang" but the walls were overhung with cascading vines and plants.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are the only ancient wonder that has not been verified through archaeological means. It is thought that the gardens were destroyed by an earthquake in the second century BC.

I wonder if Amytis was comforted by the site of this artificial green mountain rising from the flat plains?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The Colossus of Rhodes

Alexander the Great conquered much of the known world in the 4th century BC. As a result, visitors from Greece had access to the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, the Persians, and the Babylonians.

These visitors began to list the various landmarks of these lands. There were several different lists, compiled by various Greeks, but the most well known is the list of Antipater of Sidon, from 140 BC.

The seven wonders were the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Statue of Zeus on Mount Olympia, the Tomb of King Mausollus, and the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus.

The Colossus of Rhodes was built nearly 2000 years ago on the lovely Mediterranean island of Rhodes. It was a tribute to their patron god, Helios. The Rhodians believed he had protected from the siege of Demetrios, successor to Alexander the Great.

The statue stood 110 feet tall and took 12 years to build. It stood on a 50 foot marble pedestal at the mouth of the harbor.

Although the statue has been depicted in the past with its legs straddling the harbor mouth, more recent research indicates that it would have looked more like a classic Greek statue. It was nude, wore a spiked crown, and shaded its eyes from the rising sun and carried a cloak over its left arm. See the picture at the right.

Many people have heard of the Colossus of Rhodes but few know of its link to our own Statue of Liberty. The Statue of Liberty was referred to as the "New Colossus", as you can see from the inscription on the dedication plaque.

The Colossus of Rhodes stood proudly at the mouth of Mandraki harbor for 56 years. The statue collapsed when an earthquake hit the city. Pieces of the figure lay along the harbor for years.

In the 7th century, the Arabs conquered Rhodes and the statue was broken up into smaller pieces. The tons of bronze were sold off as scrap metal.

A legend says it took 900 camels to carry it away.