Saturday, October 19, 2013

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was also known as the Tomb of Mausolus as it was the final resting place of the ruler of Caria in Asia Minor near present day Bodrum, Turkey. The official story is that his wife Queen Artemisia II of Caria had the structure built to honor her husband and it was completed about 350 BC which was three years after his death. Yet due to the scale of the building some believe that Mausolus had the construction started while he was still alive. Artemisia died two years after her husband and the urns of the pair were at the site as the tomb was completed around them. The term mausoleum was coined after that to refer to an above ground tomb.

Mausolus had succeeded his father Hecatomnus as the satrap of Caria around 395 BC. Satraps were the governors of the provinces in the Persian Empire. He was able to expand the territory of his rule by conquering the regions of Ionia and Lycia in addition to several Greek islands. He made the decision to move the capital from Mylasa to Halicarnassus with one contributing factor being it would be easier to defend. His Queen Artemisia was also his sister which was not uncommon at the time for the ruling elite to marry within their own family. 

The Mausoleum itself was built by several talented Greek sculptors including Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas and Timotheus. The four each took side of the tomb to decorate. Several hundred other craftsmen were also involved. The structure was on a hill which over looked the city. It was 140 feet or 43 meters high and had a nearly 50 foot or 14 meter platform in the center which housed the marble tomb. While the whole complex was ornate with numerous sculptures one of the most distinctive was on top of the tomb where a chariot with the likenesses of Mausolus and Artemisia was pulled by four massive horses. Throughout there were influences of the Egyptians, Greeks and Lycians. The completed mausoleum was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The Mausoleum was damaged by a series of earthquakes in the 1200's. It was finally destroyed by Crusaders in 1522. At present day only the foundation remains.

Ancient Seven Wonders page

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