Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, also known as the Seven Wonders of the World or simply the Seven Wonders, is a list of seven notable structures present during classical antiquity. The first known list of seven wonders dates back to the 2nd–1st century BC.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria
Timeline, and map of the Seven Wonders. Dates in bold green and dark red are of their construction and destruction, respectively.

While the entries have varied over the centuries, the seven traditional wonders are the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Using modern-day countries, two of the wonders were located in Greece, two in Turkey, two in Egypt, and one in Iraq. Of the seven wonders, only the Pyramid of Giza, which is also by far the oldest of the wonders, still remains standing, while the others have been destroyed over the centuries. There is scholarly debate over the exact nature of the Hanging Gardens, and there is doubt as to whether they existed at all.


Alexander the Great's conquest of much of the western world in the 4th century BC gave Hellenistic travellers access to the civilizations of the Egyptians, Persians, and Babylonians.[1] Impressed and captivated by the landmarks and marvels of the various lands, these travellers began to list what they saw to remember them.[2][3]

Instead of "wonders", the ancient Greeks spoke of "theamata" (θεάματα), which means "sights", in other words "things to be seen" (Τὰ ἑπτὰ θεάματα τῆς οἰκουμένης [γῆς] Tà heptà theámata tēs oikoumenēs [gēs]). Later, the word for "wonder" ("thaumata" θαύματα, "wonders") was used.[4] Hence, the list was meant to be the Ancient World's counterpart of a travel guidebook.[1]

The first reference to a list of seven such monuments was given by Diodorus Siculus.[5][6] The epigrammist Antipater of Sidon,[7] who lived around or before 100 BC,[8] gave a list of seven "wonders", including six of the present list (substituting the walls of Babylon for the Lighthouse of Alexandria):[9]

I have gazed on the walls of impregnable Babylon along which chariots may race, and on the Zeus by the banks of the Alpheus, I have seen the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Helios, the great man-made mountains of the lofty pyramids, and the gigantic tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the others were placed in the shade, for the sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.

— Greek Anthology IX.58
The Great Pyramid of Giza, the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still standing

Another ancient writer, who, perhaps dubiously, identified himself as Philo of Byzantium, wrote a short account entitled The Seven Sights of the World.[3] The surviving manuscript is incomplete, missing its last pages. Still, from the preamble text, we can conclude that the list of seven sights exactly matches Antipater's (the preamble mentions the location of Halicarnassus, but the pages describing the seventh wonder, presumably the Mausoleum, are missing).[10]

Earlier and later lists by the historian Herodotus (c. 484 BC–c. 425 BC) and the poet Callimachus of Cyrene (c. 305–240 BC), housed at the Museum of Alexandria, survive only as references.

The Colossus of Rhodes was the last of the seven to be completed after 280 BC and the first to be destroyed by an earthquake in 226/225 BC. As such, it was already in ruins by the time the list was compiled, and all seven wonders existed simultaneously for less than 60 years.


The list covered only the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions,[11] which then comprised the known world for the Greeks. The primary accounts from Hellenistic writers also heavily influenced the places included in the wonders list. Five of the seven entries are a celebration of Greek accomplishments in construction, with the exceptions being the Pyramids of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.


The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
Name Date of construction Builders Date of destruction Cause of destruction Modern location
Great Pyramid of Giza 2584–2561 BC Egyptians Still in existence, majority of façade gone Giza Necropolis, Egypt
29°58′45.03″N 31°08′03.69″E / 29.9791750°N 31.1343583°E / 29.9791750; 31.1343583 (Great Pyramid of Giza)
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
(existence unresolved)[12]
c. 600 BC (evident) Babylonians or Assyrians After 1st century AD Unknown Hillah or Nineveh, Iraq
32°32′08″N 44°25′39″E / 32.5355°N 44.4275°E / 32.5355; 44.4275 (Hanging Gardens of Babylon)
Statue of Zeus at Olympia 466–456 BC (temple)
435 BC (statue)
5th–6th centuries AD Disassembled and reassembled at Constantinople; later destroyed by fire Olympia, Greece
37°38′16.3″N 21°37′48″E / 37.637861°N 21.63000°E / 37.637861; 21.63000 (Statue of Zeus at Olympia)
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus c. 550 BC; and again in 323 BC Greeks, Lydians 356 BC (by Herostratus)
AD 262 (by the Goths)
Arson by Herostratus, plundering Near Selçuk, Turkey
37°56′59″N 27°21′50″E / 37.94972°N 27.36389°E / 37.94972; 27.36389 (Temple of Artemis at Ephesus)
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus 351 BC Greeks,[13][14] Persians, Carians
(Satyros and Pythius of Priene)
12th–15th century AD Earthquakes Bodrum, Turkey
37°02′16″N 27°25′27″E / 37.0379°N 27.4241°E / 37.0379; 27.4241 (Mausoleum at Halicarnassus)
Colossus of Rhodes 292–280 BC Greeks
(Chares of Lindos)
226 BC Destroyed by earthquake Rhodes, Greece
36°27′04″N 28°13′40″E / 36.45111°N 28.22778°E / 36.45111; 28.22778 (Colossus of Rhodes)
Lighthouse of Alexandria c. 280 BC Greeks, Ptolemaic Egyptians AD 1303–1480 Destroyed by earthquake Alexandria, Egypt
31°12′50″N 29°53′08″E / 31.21389°N 29.88556°E / 31.21389; 29.88556 (Lighthouse of Alexandria)


A map showing the locations of the seven wonders of the ancient world

Arts and architecture

In this painting by Maerten van Heemskerck, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are depicted as a background for the abduction of Helen by Paris.[15] The Walters Art Museum

The seven wonders on Antipater's list won praises for their notable features, ranging from superlatives of the highest or largest of their types, to the artistry with which they were executed. Their architectural and artistic features were imitated throughout the Hellenistic world and beyond.

The Greek influence in Roman culture, and the revival of Greco-Roman artistic styles during the Renaissance caught the imagination of European artists and travellers.[16] Paintings and sculptures alluding to Antipater's list were made, while significant numbers of adventurers travelled to the actual sites to personally witness the wonders. Legends circulated to further complement the superlatives of the wonders.

Modern lists

Of Antipater's wonders, the only one that has survived to the present day is the Great Pyramid of Giza. Its brilliant white stone facing had survived intact until around 1300 AD, when local communities removed most of the stonework for building materials. The existence of the Hanging Gardens has not been proven, though theories abound.[17] Records and archaeology confirm the existence of the other five wonders. The Temple of Artemis and the Statue of Zeus were destroyed by fire, while the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Colossus, and tomb of Mausolus were destroyed by earthquakes. Among the surviving artefacts are sculptures from the tomb of Mausolus and the Temple of Artemis, currently kept in the British Museum in London.

The listing of seven of the most marvellous architectural and artistic human achievements continued beyond the Ancient Greek times to the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and to the modern age. The Roman poet Martial and the Christian bishop Gregory of Tours had their versions.[1] Reflecting the rise of Christianity and the factor of time, nature and the hand of man overcoming Antipater's seven wonders, Roman and Christian sites began to figure on the list, including the Colosseum, Noah's Ark, and Solomon's Temple.[1][3] In the 6th century, a list of seven wonders was compiled by St. Gregory of Tours: the list[18] included the Temple of Solomon, the Pharos of Alexandria, and Noah's Ark.

Modern historians, working on the premise that the original Seven Ancient Wonders List was limited in its geographic scope, also had their versions to encompass sites beyond the Hellenistic realm—from the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World to the Seven Wonders of the World. The "seven wonders" label has spawned innumerable versions among international organizations, publications and individuals based on different themes—works of nature, engineering masterpieces, constructions of the Middle Ages, etc. Its purpose has also changed from just a simple travel guidebook or a compendium of curious places to a list of sites to defend or preserve.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World". Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  2. ^ "History of the Past: World History".
  3. ^ a b c Paul Lunde (May–June 1980). "The Seven Wonders". Saudi Aramco World. Archived from the original on 2009-10-13. Retrieved 2009-09-12.
  4. ^ Clayton, Peter; Martin J. Price (1990). The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Routledge. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-415-05036-4.
  5. ^ Diodorus Siculus. Bibliotheca Historica, Books I-V. Perseus Project, Tufts University. 2.11.5.
  6. ^ Clayton, Peter A.; Price, Martin (2013-08-21). The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Routledge. p. 158. ISBN 9781136748097. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  7. ^ Greek Anthology, Volume III. Perseus Project, Tufts University. Book 9, chapter 58.
  8. ^ Biographical Dictionary Volume III. Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. 1843. p. 48. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  9. ^ Clayton, Peter A.; Price, Martin (2013-08-21). The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 9781136748103. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  10. ^ Pearse, Roger (2019-08-23). "Philo of Byzantium, On the Seven Wonders of the World: an English translation and some notes". Roger Pearse. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  11. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica Micropædia Volume 10. US: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 1995. p. 666. ISBN 0-85229-605-3.
  12. ^ There is some conjecture as to whether the Hanging Gardens actually existed, or were purely legendary (see Finkel, Irving (1988) "The Hanging Gardens of Babylon", In The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, Edited by Peter Clayton and Martin Price, Routledge, New York, pp. 38 ff. ISBN 0-415-05036-7).
  13. ^ Kostof, Spiro (1985). A History of Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-19-503473-2.
  14. ^ Gloag, John (1969) [1958]. Guide to Western Architecture (Revised ed.). The Hamlyn Publishing Group. p. 362.
  15. ^ "Panorama with the Abduction of Helen Amidst the Wonders of the Ancient World". The Walters Art Museum.
  16. ^ "Wonders of Europe". Retrieved 2009-09-14.
  17. ^ Stephanie Dalley (2013), The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon: an elusive World wonder traced. OUP ISBN 978-0-19-966226-5
  18. ^ Clayton, Peter and Price, Martin: The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Routledge, 1988), pp. 162–163.

Further reading

  • Clayton, Peter and Price, Martin, 1988, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Routledge. ISBN 9780710211590
  • Condello, Federico; Floridi, Lucia (2023). Pseudo-Filone di Bisanzio, "Le sette meraviglie del mondo": introduzione, testo critico, traduzione, note esegetiche e testuali. Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 9783111166469.
  • Higgins, Michael Denis (2023). The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: Science, Engineering and Technology. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780197648155.

External links