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Australia RESOURCES Articles 7 Wonders of the World


7 Wonders of the World

Can you name them all? Can you vote on new ones?

Only one of the "Seven Wonders of the World" still exists: Egypt's Pyramids at Giza. The other ancient wonders are long gone, their glories all broken by the Earth and lost to time.

Now, Egyptian officials seem worried about losing their wonder, too. Not because the pyramids are in danger of crumbling--they've stood tall for 46 centuries--but because there's a move afoot to name the "New Seven Wonders" of the world, and the pyramids are only one of 21 finalists being put to a worldwide web vote.

Egypt views the entire idea as an affront to the pyramids. "They are the only one of the seven wonders that still exists," said Egypt's antiquities chief. "They don't need to be put to a vote." But there are some pretty wondrous wonders on the new list--like the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis, the Statue of Liberty, and Stonehenge.

We'll tell you how to register your own vote for the "New Seven Wonders" below. But first, we have to ask you, can you name the old seven wonders? Knowing them just might sway your vote for today's short list. Let's see, after the Pyramids of Giza come the . . .

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Bible readers know Nebuchadnezzar II as the king who, in 587 BC, destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem and forced the Jews into exile in Babylonia. But ancient tourists knew him as the man behind Babylon's Hanging Gardens. Built around 600 BC, the gardens grew on the roof of a terraced structure within his palace walls, irrigated by pumps that drew water up from the Euphrates. Today, Babylon is a ruin near Baghdad, and no definitive trace of the gardens has ever been found.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Ephesians erected their great temple for Apollo's twin sister Artemis around 550 BC. They rebuilt it after 356 BC, when a terrorist bent on fame set it ablaze. Located in today's Turkey, across the Aegean Sea from Athens, the temple drew many Greeks bearing gifts. They marveled at its size--imagine a football field surrounded by marble--and at the art inside. Little remains of the temple today, just fragments at the site and in museums.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

When Olympia, home of the Olympic Games in western Greece, beheld the Temple of Artemis, its citizens said, "We'll see your Artemis and raise you a statue of Zeus." By 435 BC, the famed Greek sculptor Phidias was pounding the last plates of gold and ivory into place on a 40-foot (12-meter) statue of Zeus, seated on a cedarwood throne. No one knows what became of the thunder god's likeness, but we have found the workshop Phidias used to make it.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

South of Ephesus, at Halicarnassus, ruled Mausolus, a Persian satrap who admired the Greek way of life. So, when Mausolus died in 353 BC, his sister-widow-queen, Artemisia, built him the most opulent Greek tomb around. It was 135 feet (40 meters) tall, adorned on every side with sculpture, and capped with a pyramidal roof. An earthquake brought the tomb down in medieval times, and Mausolus's memory now survives mainly in the word mausoleum.

Colossus of Rhodes

On the Greek island of Rhodes in the Mediterranean Sea, workers made wonder out of war. An army had besieged the island's capital. But Rhodes resisted for a year, and the army left. So the Rhodians reforged the army's abandoned bronze and iron weapons and sold its siege equipment to make a colossus: a 110-foot (34-meter) statue of the sun god Helios. By 280 BC, it stood tall on a marble pedestal near the harbor--until an earthquake toppled it just 56 years later.

Lighthouse of Alexandria

In the Egyptian port of Alexandria, few would have been overawed by Rhodes's colossus. For in Alexandria's harbor, on a small island named Pharos, stood the original lighthouse. It was made around the same time as Rhodes's statue, but dwarfed it. It stood 384 feet (117 meters) high--some say higher. Fires burned at the top at night, and bronze mirrors reflected sunlight during the day. It stood until the 14th century, when earthquakes ruined it, too.

Pyramids of Giza

Of course, we've already mentioned Egypt's three Pyramids of Giza, the only ancient wonder still standing today. But they are in a class by themselves in practically every other way as well. The largest and oldest of the three, the Great Pyramid, was built for the pharaoh Khufu (called Cheops by the Greeks) in the 26th century BC. That makes it 2,000 years older than any other wonder on the list.

The Great Pyramid climbs more than 450 feet (138 meters) into the sky--high enough to make it the tallest structure on Earth for almost 4,000 years, until European cathedrals started reaching for heaven. It's made up of about 2.3 million massive blocks of stone, weighing perhaps 6 million tons all told. Some have described it as "the most colossal single building ever erected on the planet." Now that's a wonder for any list, old or new.

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