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Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Written for the KidsKnowIt Network by:
Brandon Guymon

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was an incredibly fancy tomb built for King Mausolus of Halicarnassus. Mausolus' tomb was so fancy that his name has been used to make the word mausoleum, which means “fancy tomb.” Mausolus’ wife, Artemisia, built the mausoleum after his death. The Mausoleum was built between 353 BCE and 350 BCE. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Constructed of highly polished marble, the Mausoleum was a four-sided structure that stood 45 meters (148ft.) tall. Each side had multiple sculptures that were created by four of the most famous sculptors in Greece. Tall columns supported each side of the pyramid-shaped roof. The roof was adorned by a life-sized sculpture of a chariot and horses.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.








Halicarnassus was a city in the Persian Empire; however, Mausolus embraced Greek Culture and the Greek way of life. When he moved his capital city to Halicarnassus, he had the city designed by Greek architects and built in a Greek style. He even had a castle built so he could look out over the ocean and out over the land; coincidentally, these were the directions in which Mausolus’ enemies could attack his new city. He built the walls strong enough that they could withstand the attack of a new invention, the catapult.

Mausolus was a regional governor of the Persian Empire, but he remained mostly independent of the Persian Empire. He was independent enough that he acted like a king and was called a king, though the Persian Emperor sent people to check up on him.


A diagram of the Mausoleum.

When Mausolus died, his wife, Artemisia, paid a lot of money to have the Mausoleum built near the castle of Halicarnassus. She hired the same architect that designed a famous temple of Artemis in the Greek city of Ephesus to design the Mausoleum. She hired four famous sculptors, one for each side, to make sculptures for the sides and top of the Mausoleum. The entire structure was covered with bas-relief scenes from Greek Mythology and freestanding sculptures. Sculpted lions guarded the stairs leading up from the ground to the platform on which the Mausoleum stood. Horse mounted warriors guarded the corners. On the platform between the columns were sculptures of many different gods and goddesses. The top third of the building was shaped like a pyramid. The top of the roof was crowned with a massive chariot in which Mausolus and Artemisia rode. The whole structure was designed to show the world for all time just how rich Mausolus and Artemisia were.

Another image of what the Mausoleum may have looked like.

The Mausoleum survived the city being taken over by Alexander the Great, it survived an attack by pirates, and it was still standing in the 1200s CE. In the 1200s, a writer name Eustathius of Thessalonica wrote, “it was and is a wonder,” so the Mausoleum was still there. Sometime between when Eustathius saw the Mausoleum and 1402 when the Knights of St. John arrived, the Mausoleum was destroyed by an earthquake. The Knights of St. John completed the destruction of the Mausoleum by using the broken pieces to build their castle. Many pieces of the Mausoleum can still be seen in the ruins of the Knights' castle.

This castle was built with many of the Mausoleum's remains.

In conclusion, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was and elaborate tomb constructed by the wife of a vain king to prove to the world just how much money he could waste. The tomb was so overly elaborate that King Mausolus’ name has been used to describe a fancy tomb: Mausoleum.

       


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