The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus: A Wonder of the Ancient World

Have you ever wondered where the word “mausoleum” originated from?

Since the Roman era, the word has defined the tomb of an influential person. However, its origin is quite fascinating! As it can be traced back to one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.

How large-scale was the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus?

And, why did the word “mausoleum” originate from there?

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus actually refers to the incredible tomb built for the King of Caria. Caria was a providence in the Persian Empire. Often cited as the most splendid tomb ever built and hailed for its architectural magnificence, the tomb is one of the classical 7 Wonders.

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Quick Facts on the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

✓ Location – Halicarnassus (present-day Bodrum, Turkey)

✓ Built Period – around 350 BC

✓ Built For – the City King, Mausolus

✓ Destruction – due to a series of earthquakes in the 13th century AD and raids by the Crusaders in 1522 AD.

✓ Size – approximately 140 feet high

✓ Construction Material – mainly white marble

Why Was the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus Built?

Mausolus and his wife/sister used to admire all things Greek. They structured their capital city in a way that it could pay an homage to Greek architecture and art.

Mausolus was the city king. He took a keen interest in constructing columned buildings showcasing Greek sculptural styles. He built a city featuring temples devoted to the Greek Gods.

Mausolus died in 353 BC. But, his death left his wife, Artemisia, who incidentally was his sister, devastated. She planned to build a Greek-inspired tomb for her husband/brother. She obviously wanted to make it huge, so that it could signify her love and respect for him.

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She sent messengers to Greece to find out the best sculptors at the time. And, famous sculptors like Satyros, Pytheos and many more formed the team to build one of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world.

The Construction of the Mausoleum

Artemisia spent lavishly on the construction of the temple. She enforced policies to make the best use of expenses.

Satyros and Pytheos designed the overall shape of the tomb. Historians find the Mausoleum in resemblance to Nereid Monument of Lycian Xantho. Besides the two designers, there were other famed sculptors in the team. They were Byraxis, Timotheus, Byraxis and Scopas. They were tasked with decorating the tomb.

The mausoleum was built on a fascinating location. It situated atop a hill overlooking the city. The whole structure was built on a stone platform. An enclosed courtyard surrounded the area.

The tomb was constructed with mainly white marble. And, the construction followed the Egyptian, Greek, and Lycian styles.

The walls of the tomb were covered with reliefs documenting heroism of the Greeks. The roof gave the tomb a striking feature. It was built in the shape of a stepped pyramid consisting of 24 levels.

One of the Classical Wonders: A Wonder of the Ancient World

The Mausoleum of Mausolus is one of the 7 Wonders of the ancient world. The surrounding walls were rich with statuary and carvings depicting gods and goddesses. It was so splendid and unique at the time that it used to attract tourists from across the world.

Several ancient historians acknowledged its greatness. It’s significance in the history one of the 7 Wonders.

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The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was truly a marvel of art and ancient architecture. There are only rubbles of the structure at the site. But, it will remain a wonder of the ancient world.


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