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The Greeks - Makers of the World Wonders



The Greeks - Makers of the World Wonders
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.87

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    Croesus, de-facto, plutarch, satrap, sultan, unremarkable, madman, colonnade, sacked, standoff, burning, ill-fated, deity, present-day, tolerant, oracle
     content words:    Seven Wonders, Ancient World, In Zeus, After Christianity, Roman Empire, Olympic Games, Eastern Roman, Byzantine Empire, Macedonian Empire, Ptolemy III


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The Greeks - Makers of the World Wonders
By Vickie Chao
  

1     Have you ever heard of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World? A Greek writer and poet by the name of Antipater of Sidon was the first person to conceive that idea, sometime during the 2nd century B.C. His choices were probably based on the popular tourist spots of his day. Of the seven monuments that made it on his list that we know today (which may not be the same as Antipater's original list), five of them were closely linked to the same civilization -- Greece. Together, they showcased what a magnificent culture the Greeks had at the time.
 
2     The first of the five was the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Turkey. In 550 B.C., Croesus, the king of Lydia, commissioned architect Chersiphron to design a temple for the Greek goddess of hunting. As a show of his respect toward the deity, the king spared no expense. The building, mostly made of marble, was an instant hit, attracting admirers from all corners to come and worship Artemis. The temple had a rectangular base, about 350 feet long and 180 feet wide. All around it were 127 Ionic-styled columns. Each towered 60 feet in height. Sadly, on July 21, 356 B.C., a madman named Herostratus set fire to the temple's roof beams and burned it down. When asked why he had committed such a horrible crime, Herostratus said that he wanted to become famous by whatever means possible. Well, he certainly got his wish! Interestingly, on the very night that the Temple of Artemis was torched, Alexander the Great was born. Plutarch, a Greek historian, wrote that Artemis was too busy that day with Alexander's delivery to save her own burning temple. At one point, Alexander offered to pay for the reconstruction. But the Ephesians turned down the offer. They did not restore the temple until after Alexander died in 323 B.C. During a raid in 262 A.D., the Goths sacked Ephesus and again destroyed the Temple of Artemis. This time, it was gone forever!
 
3     The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (present-day Bodrum, Turkey) was a tomb for Mausolus (also spelled as Mausollus). Mausolus was the de-facto ruler of Caria, though he technically was a mere satrap (governor) who was required to answer to the Persian king. His reign over Caria, from 377 B.C. to 353 B.C., was rather unremarkable. The only matter worthy of note was the construction of his tomb. This particular project -- conceived by Artemisia, his sister and wife -- probably began some time before Mausolus passed away. To make her husband's final resting place as grand as possible, Artemisia hired the most talented architects from Greece to lead the task. When the construction was done in 350 B.C., it featured a white marble building standing up to 140 feet. The entire structure had four main sections. The base platform, where Mausolus' tomb sat, was 60 feet tall. On top of that, there were thirty-six columns, each measuring 38-feet in height. Above the colonnade was a giant 22-foot stepped pyramid, followed by a 20-foot chariot statue bearing Mausolus and Artemisia's images. A fine collection of statues, all made by the finest Greek sculptors of Artemisia's days, dotted the complex. This splendid building perched atop a hill and overlooked Halicarnassus for nearly sixteen centuries. During that long period, the city itself changed hands many times over. Yet, amazingly, no harm ever came to the mausoleum. The building was eventually reduced to rubble by a series of massive earthquakes. Later, the locals reused most of its remains for their own construction projects. They never rebuilt it.

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