7 Wonders of the Ancient World: Mausoleum & Statue

Mausoleum Site in RuinsIn this article, you are introduced to a statue that rose 40 feet into the air and a final resting place that gave way to a term we use today.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia (466-456 BC; 435 BC)

This tribute to Zeus saw two different lifetimes in history , as a temple between 466 and 456 BC, and a statue in 435 BC. During the Classical period, a Greek sculptor by the name of Phidias created the landmark around 432 BC on a site where it dwelled alongside the temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Legend has it, Phidias attributed the portrayal of Zeus in Book one, verses 528 to 530 of the Iliad by Homer, which are:

“He spoke, the son of Kronos, and nodded his head with the dark brows,

and the immortally anointed hair of the great god

swept from his divine head, and all Olympos was shaken”

The statue was 40 feet (or 12 meters tall) and took up the entire width of the aisle of the temple that was constructed to support its existence. The depiction of Zeus was fashioned out of ivory and contained gld-plated bronze. Throughout the years, no duplications have survived time, but its image was placed on various Roman coins and engraved gemstones, which provide an accurate example of the statue for historians to study. As for a literary description of the sculpture, Pausanias, traveler known for his writings during the 2nd century AD, shed light on the sight of the statue.

Other features of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia includes a wreath with shoots of olive placed upon his head, as well as an impressive throne, comprised of cedarwood with detailing in gold, ebony, ivory, and precious stones. In the right hand of Zeus, a small statue of crowned Nike (the goddess of victory) was placed in ivory and gold-plated bronze. His left hand was occupied by a scepter decorated with metals , an eagle perched on top.

The exact fate of the statue is unknown, but it is believed to have been destroyed in a fire or devastated during an earthquake.

Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (351 BC)

It was the Carians, Persians, and Greeks who were responsible for constructing the mausoleum that stood about 135 feet into the sky. The beauty of the structure knew no bounds, as all four sides of the landmark offered striking sculptural reliefs. A different Greek sculptor created each one of the reliefs: Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus.

Interestingly, the man that this final resting place was built for was Mausolus , a satrap in the Persian Empire. His sister and wife, Artemisia II of Caria was also buried in the tomb. It is from him that we get the term, ‘mausoleum.’ If you were wondering what a satrap is”¦it was the name given to governors of the provinces of ancient Persian and Median empires.

By the time 1494 AD rolled around, the mausoleum was destroyed by the will of an earthquake and ultimately disassembled by European Crusaders. The site of the former landmark sits in ruins surrounded by a scattering of stones.