5 Unbelievable Facts About The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The least known wonder of the ancient world explored

A diagram depicting the mausoleum. (Sir Banister Flight Fletcher / Public domain)

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was named the seventh wonder of the ancient world by its contemporaries. It was not as large as the Great Pyramids, nor was it as visible as the Colossus of Rhodes. Instead, ancient philosophers, priests and kings noted the structure for its intricate detail work.

Despite its grandeur and its pedigree, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is probably the least well known of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

1. All mausoleums are named after this one

The man from which all mausoleums are named. (Shakko / Public domain)

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was the brainchild of a ruler by the name of Mausolus. By all accounts, Mausolus was a minor lord with great vision. He ruled over a small corner of the Achaemenid Empire from the city of Halicarnassus. His name, Mausolus, is the root word for the modern term mausoleum based off of his elaborate tomb.

2. It attracted the greatest people of the age

Legendary figures from the ancient world worked on, documented and visited the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The famous sculptor, Scopas, worked on the tomb’s many statues. Pliny The Elder recorded the tomb’s measurements and splendor in his vast works. An offering jar by the Persian King Xerxes I was found in the ruins. The structure was a big deal and attracted interest from all over the ancient world.

3. It lasted the second longest out of all of the ancient wonders

A painting depicting all of the wonders of the ancient world (Mark22 / Public domain)

The Great Pyramids still stand in Egypt today but the rest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are gone. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus lasted the second longest out of any of them. The Colossus of Rhodes didn’t last a century. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus survived for over eighteen centuries.

Construction finished in 351 BCE and the structure stood until 1494CE. That put it at the ripe age of 1845 years old when it finally fell.

4. Earthquakes brought it down

Earthquakes have brought down many buildings in human history and few as grand as this mausoleum. A series of earthquakes in the 15th century began to damage and weaken the structure until it finally all came down in the last days. After nearly two millennia, the shaking of the earth was too much for the fingers of man to overcome.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was not the only ancient wonder to be destroyed by tectonics. The statue at Rhodes as well as the Lighthouse at Alexandria were also brought down by earthquakes in their time.

5. It was adorned with dozens of lifelike marble statues

Statues recovered from the ruins of the mausoleum (Credit: The British Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Scopas, famous for his Meleager sculpture, worked on many of the dozens of statues and sculptures that adorned the mausoleum. Intricate relief work was inlaid around the base. Full sized statues of lions and people, guarded all four sides of the structure. The top featured a larger-than-life chariot holding Mausolus and his wife.

Like the structure itself, nearly all of these statues were sculpted out of solid marble. They stood true to real dimensions or even larger. It was this level of detail and craftsmanship which raised this structure to the level of Wonder rather than simply another vanity project by an ancient king.

Written by

Hobbyist historian | Political scientist | Story teller | Lover of animals | Freelancer | Always open for work -> grantpiperwriting@outlook.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store