By the 4th century BC, the ancient Greeks had conquered much of Egypt, Persia, and Babylonia. This opened the door for ancient travel writers to record the most amazing structures in the so-called “known world.” What were the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?
What were the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?
Multiple versions of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World exist. However, the canonical version is generally listed as follows:
- Great Pyramid of Giza
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia
- Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
- Colossus of Rhodes
- Lighthouse of Alexandria
Considering the nationality of the travel writers, it should be no surprise that Greek architecture dominates this list. Only the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon came from civilizations outside of Greece. Interestingly enough, those Seven Wonders only existed at the same time for about 55 years. That’s the lifespan of the magnificent, but extremely short-lived Colossus of Rhodes.
However, the canonical list isn’t the original one. For example, check out this poem written by Antipater of Sidon in 140 BC.
“I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.'” ~ Antipater of Sidon, Greek Anthology (IX.58)
Interesting huh? His list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World has the Walls of Babylon (which includes the famous Ishtar Gate) instead of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. And older lists include even more variations. Diodorus mentions a mysterious obelisk in Babylon as “among the seven wonders of the world.” The Palace of Cyrus has also been mentioned in this regard. Supposedly, the earliest Seven Wonders lists didn’t include any non-Greek monuments. Unfortunately, none of those lists exist today.
Sadly, other than the Great Pyramid of Giza, all the ancient wonders have succumbed to the ravages of time. In addition, numerous questions surround the inclusion of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Indeed, many modern scholars question its very existence.
Updating the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?
Just as the original list of wonders changed over the years, many modern groups have created their own lists. Perhaps the most notable one comes from the New7Wonders Foundation:
- Great Wall of China
- Christ the Redeemer
- Machu Picchu
- Chichen Itza
- Taj Majal
- Great Pyramid of Giza (Honorary Member)
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
But should we take this list seriously? After all, it excludes the Moai of Easter Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Angor Wat. Furthermore, this was a popularity poll conducted in part on the Internet. Since there were no steps taken to prevent multiple votes, there was no way to stop ballot box stuffing.
Regardless, there are literally hundreds of possible candidates for a modern Seven Wonders of the World. In fact, there are so many candidates, its impossible for everyone to agree on one list. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. It indicates the world we’ve created is literally full of Wonders.