If I live to see the Seven Wonders

Sorry, Stevie Nicks, but what exactly does that lyric mean? You could live to be a thousand and still not see the Seven Wonders. Why? Because only one of them actually exists.

As I was clicking through the Amazing Fact Generator at Mental Floss, I came across this factoid:

Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, 3 fell due to earthquakes, 2 due to fires, 1 probably never even existed, and only one stands today—The Pyramid of Khufu.

I thought to myself: can I even name the Seven Wonders? So I came right to Finkville and opened up a new post without looking anywhere else. In all transparency, here are my guesses:

  1. The Great Pyramids (well obviously)
  2. Stonehenge
  3. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  4. Um, lessee…those creepy, monolithic, huge stone face thingies on Easter Island
  5. The Sphinx?
  6. Yikes…
  7. Moo.

eek. I’m dumm.

So now I shall research properly, if for no other reason than to retain the distinction of being your one-stop shop for useless tripe.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are:

#1. The Pyramid of Khufu. The first and largest of the pyramids at the necropolis in Giza, Egypt, this monument was erected for the pharaoh Khufu. Known as the Great Pyramid, it rises about 450 feet (having lost about 30 feet off the top over the years) and covers 13 acres. (Description courtesy CNN Destinations)

I thought the Sphinx was a separate wonder, but it’s just part of the necropolis. So I wasn’t all wrong, ja?

[But I was completely wrong about Stonehenge. If I’d read the factoid carefully, I would have noticed that it said that only one Wonder still exists. Helloooo.]

#2. The Colossus of Rhodes. It must have been a sight to behold: a 110-foot-high monster of stone columns, iron bars and bronze outer skin. It stood tall for over 60 years, until an earthquake toppled it in 224 BC. Cut Helios right down at the knees, actually. Ptolemy III offered to pay for its reconstruction, but an oracle was consulted and he advised against it.

Nothing remains of the statue today, and its original location remains the subject of debate.~

#3. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. Built with marble and mortar, this ancient wonder guided mariners to the small island of Pharos, beginning in 279 BC, depending on whom you ask. Records from Moorish travelers in the tenth century AD indicate the lighthouse stood what we would call 450 feet high.

The searchlight function was likely achieved by burning dried animal dung, which I’m sure was a delightful experience on nights when the breezes blew inland.
#4. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassos. Built by Artemisia, wife of the ruler Mausolus in what is present-day Turkey, this tomb featured gorgeous friezes and sculptures. At 143 feet high, it stood over the city of Halicarnassos for some 17 centuries, until a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the whole thing crashing to the ground. By 1404 AD, only the very base of the Mausoleum was still recognizable.
In 1846, the British Museum sent archaeologist Charles Newton to search for remains of the tomb. He excavated the site and found the statues of Mausolus and Artemisia that had stood at the entrance. These figures are now on display at the British Museum.
#5. The Temple of Artemis. The gods apparently did not want this structure to stand, as it was built three times and destroyed three times. Built in 550 BC in the city of Ephesus, it stood in honor of Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Some guy named Herostratus, who wanted his fifteen minutes of fame, burned the structure to the ground in 356 BC. It was rebuilt, then destroyed again — twice.
The ruins can be seen here.
#6. The Statue of Zeus. Built at the city of Olympia in 435 BC, the statue was added to a temple in order to gussy it up a bit. Made of ivory, the gold-robe-draped Zeus had a wreath around his head, and held a figure of Nike, his messenger, in his right hand. The statue was later moved to Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where it was destroyed by fire in 462 AD. Of all the Wonders, it ranks third in longevity.
#7. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This tale comes out of Baghdad, formerly the ancient city of Babylon. Many historians call it a myth. (Still, the Fink is not here to judge, but to deliver the goods.) According to legend, King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to build for his wife an amazing green retreat in the middle of the desert, so he had workers construct 400 square feet of garden, 75 feet above ground. Water from the Euphrates was carried up to irrigate the greenery — an act which almost certainly would have had a negative effect on the brick structure beneath, and therefore adds to the dubious nature of the story. At any rate, the “hanging” gardens likely did not actually hang; rather than being suspended, they were probably “overhanging” the wall edges, as depicted in the drawing. Chalk that up to faulty Greek translation.
And there you have it. I have learned something this day, having never even heard of most of these places. Now I shall commit them to memory. And on that note…
J’ever notice that you can usually only name six of the seven dwarfs before getting stumped? Or just six of the seven deadly sins? The seven seas? The seven continents? The seven Horcruxes? Or the seven colors of the rainbow without using Roy G. Biv?
All right, I’m hungry now. Time for breakfast — mayhap to feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and…
Happy Finkday, in thy mercy.

10 thoughts on “If I live to see the Seven Wonders

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      You know, there’s a site called the New Seven Wonders, and the Falls didn’t make that list, either! I was surprised.

      The Falls didn’t make the original list because it describes the ancient world — didn’t nobody know about North America back then ceppin’ the natives. I was shocked that Stonehenge wasn’t one of them, though!

      I should have put in the original post where the list originally came from — a writer named Antipater, around 140 BC, who said, “I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race [1], and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus [2], I have seen the hanging gardens [3], and the Colossus of the Helios [4], the great man made mountains of the lofty pyramids [5], and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus [6]; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis [7], that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.”

  1. PKPudlin

    I thought the Great Wall of China was one too. I do know that a couple of years ago, the Seven Wonders were revised to include the Great Wall and Christ the Redeemer in Brazil. Check this out: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/07/the-new-revised.html
    If memory serves, Niagara Falls (slowly I turned…) was a contender, and the Sphinx, among other things. I’ll have to do a little digging myself.

    I also know people have trouble naming Santa’s reindeer, which I understand didn’t have names until the poem ” Twas the Night Before Christmas” came out. Can you name the 9 Muses? Henry VIII’s six wives (in order)? The 5 parts of the Mass?

    OK, I’m outta here. My therapist (who looks like a sewing machine) is calling.


    1. Rat Fink Post author

      Good points, PK. I mean if you look at it, the Antipater guy was confined to pretty much a limited space — how could he have seen *everything*? I definitely think the Falls, the Great Wall, the Redeemer statue and the Grand Canyon should be included (even if the statue and the wall are man made).

      Having read Philippa Gregory, I actually CAN name the six wives! And after teaching music history for so many years, I could recite the parts of the Mass Ordinary pretty quickly, too. The muses? Fuggedit!!

  2. RD

    Now that I’m retired, I might have the time to venture to some of the sights you recommend. I like the new Finkdom design.

  3. Krissy

    Wow. I tried to guess the wonders before I scrolled down and the only one I missed was the Mausoleum. I’ve never even heard of that one before. Researching Ancient History is a hobby of mine. Most of the wonders were mentioned in a fictional work called “The Memoirs of Cleopatra” by Margaret George. It’s a really long book but I find it to be a fascinating novel.


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