The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - Ancient Wonder

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It seemed to Queen Artemisia that her heart would overflow with sorrow when her husband died. He was a handsome man in the prime of life and if his portrait is to be believed a man of quiet dignity. His loss greatly saddened the devoted Artemisia. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is one of the seven wonders of the ancienf world and one of the seven wonders of the world.

The way she decided to perpetuate his memory and appease her sadness made people gasp with wonder. She built for him the most splendid tomb ever conceived. King Mausolus, the husband of Artemisia, ruled a province of the great Persian empire called Caria. A modern Turkish port, Budrum, marks the site of the King's capital, Halicarnassus.

When, in 353 BC, Mausolus departed from the world to dwell with his gods forever, Artemisia sent to Greece for the best artists and designers. There was Scopas, greatest sculptor of the century, renowned for his gift of expressing passionate emotion and vitality in stone; Satyros and Pythios the architects; and Timeotheos, Bryaxis and Leochares, a trio of sculptors second only to Scopas.

These and other great talents set to work at Artemisia's bequest. But, before they had nearly finished, the Queen died. The artists decided they would complete the tomb for their own fame and as a record of their skill. When they had finished, the tomb was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was called, after King Mausolus, the Mausoleum.

It was, we know, a rectangle, with bands of sculpture around all four sides. There was a colonnade of 36 marble columns supporting a pyramid of 24 steps and on top of the pyramid was a horse drawn chariot. Probably the draped statues of Mausolus and his wife stood in the chariot the crowning glory of the Mausoleum. All this soared to a height of 43 metres, and somehow the Greek artists had contrived to make it seem that the massive pyramid, held up by the slender colonnade, was virtually floating in mid-air.

Sadly, this didn't seem to impress the Knights of St John, who early in the fifteenth century moved into Halicarnassus, and were probably responsible for stripping the Mausoleum in order to build their castle. Only a few fragments of the Mausoleum were preserved. Ironically though, the grief stricken Queen Artemisia, who wished to preserve her husband's name for all time, succeeded in a way she could never have imagined, for the word 'mausoleum' is now used for any ornate tomb.

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