An Introduction to the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Written for the KidsknowIt Network by:
People can do amazing things. Our world is filled with the creations of clever and determined men and women. Enormous buildings stretch to the skies, ships the size of some states grace the water and the American flag graces the moon. We use machines and technology to make our dreams a reality. But long before computers or even electricity, man made incredible and beautiful structures. Today, we refer to these ancient marvels as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Around the 4th century BC, the Greeks gained control of much of their part of the world. This allowed Greek citizens to travel through the area of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. Traveling through Babylonia, Egypt and Persia, they noticed the wonderful buildings and monuments of new places. They made lists of amazing places for other travelers to see. Each picked his favorites. There were many lists, and not every list was the same. Some earlier lists were made before ‘wonders’ were built. Other people just had different ideas of what was the most special.
Many of these lists had seven places – a number considered to have special power. While many lists were created of ‘must see places’, most have not survived to present day. Because most of the writers of the lists were Greek, most items on the lists show their loyalty and pride in their own culture. Only two places on the surviving lists are of origins other than the Greek culture. Like the lists themselves, most of the wonders have fallen victim to time. Only the Great Pyramid of Giza is still around for us to enjoy.
Of the lost wonders, earthquakes destroyed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (around 600 BC – sometime in the 1st century AD), the Colossus of Rhodes (292 BC – 226 BC) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (280 BC – 1323 AD). Fire took the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (550 BC – 262 AD) and Statue of Zeus at Olympia (466 BC - 5th–6th centuries AD). The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (351 BC – 1494 AD) was destroyed by a flood. Historians are not sure of the exact dates of construction or destruction of some of these structures, since ‘eye-witness accounts’ vary. One, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, may not ever have even existed at all, but may be only a legend!
Travelers of the ancient world enjoyed seeing new sights and meeting new people. They were amazed at the creations and structures of their neighbors. When they found out someone else was going to a region they had already visited, they suggested places to see. They even published ‘guide books’ of their favorite places. In many ways, they were much like we are today. And just as others can learn a lot about other countries from people who have visited there, we can learn much about past cultures and countries by notes and messages travelers of old left behind. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, while mostly gone from the world, live on due to the passions of those who visited them.