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The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

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Another of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World was the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. It was a massive tomb, built in the city of Halicarnassus, in Asia Minor.

A man named Hecatomnus of Mylasa died in 377 B.C. He left control of his kingdom to his son, Mausolus. This king was even more successful than his father at conquering territory; at the height of his powers, Mausolus and his queen, Artemisia, controlled most of southwest Asia Minor.

In 353 B.C., Mausolus died. Artemisia decided to build, in honor of her husband, a tomb larger than any that had ever been built. She sent word to Greece that she would pay any price to have the best architects in the world help build this tomb. One of the men who worked on the tomb was Scopas, who had had a hand in building the Temple to Artemis at Ephesus, another of the 7 Ancient Wonders.

The result was huge and unlike anything ever seen before. Stone lions guarded the stairway up to the tomb. The building itself was 140 feet high. The bottom third was solid marble. The middle third contained Greek columns. The top third was a pyramid. On the very top was a large stone sculpture showing Mausolus and Artemisia standing side by side in a chariot. The whole thing took many years to build.

Artemisia died two years after her husband did, when the tomb was still being built. The builders stayed on to finish the job.

A series of earthquakes during the Middle Ages shattered much of the Mausoleum, and the people who lived in and around Halicarnassus eventually took much of the rest of the tomb to use in their own buildings.

Graphics courtesy of the UnMuseum

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