Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

What is the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus?

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a structure designed by Pythius of Priene, and Satyros, Greek architects working on the behalf of Queen Artemisia. Today it is regarded as a Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Mausoleum was located in what is now known as Bodrum, Turkey. The structure was built around 350BC in honor of the late City King Mausolus. The structure became so famous that the term mausoleum was derived from Mausolus’s name and is still used today. The Mausoleum was made from marble and takes inspiration from Lycian, Greek, and Egyptian styles.

The Legend

353 BC saw the end of the City King Mausolus. After his death, his queen and sister Artemisia decided to spare no expense to pay tribute to him. Queen Artemisia contacted many different architects to help build her King/brother the most extravagant tomb known to the world. Pythius of Priene and Satyros were chosen for the task.

The tomb was built on a hill that overlooked the city. The tomb was featured in the center of an enclosed stone courtyard. Stairs to the courtyard were flanked by lions made from stone. The architects included many popular mythological scenes to be portrayed upon the mausoleum walls. Each corner of the tomb has a sculpture of a warrior on horseback ready to protect the tomb.

The mausoleum stood 140 feet high, with over 36 columns. The structure was constructed from marble and sculptures of Greek mythology and history were sculpted on the relief. Scenes that were depicted was the battle of Centaurs versus Lapiths and depictions of the warrior women race, Amazons.

Queen Artemisia lived 2 years longer than her husband. After her death, both she and the king were buried in the unfinished tomb. The craftsman that were working on the project chose to stay even after their patron died, choosing to use the mausoleum as a symbol of their own talent and accomplishment.

The Destruction of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus survived centuries. It survived the sacking of the city by Alexander the Great in 334 BC and remained undamaged from pirate attacks. It is believed that the mausoleum stood for over 17 centuries. However, the 13th century saw a series of earthquakes that shattered the foundation and columns. 1404 AD, the only recognizable feature of the Mausoleum was the base.

It wasn’t until the crusaders that the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus saw its final destruction. Crusaders are infamous throughout history for having little respect for history or ancient cultures. The Crusaders occupied Halicarnassus during the 13th century and used the marble from the mausoleum for building stone to reinforce their own structures. The rumored Turkish invasion of 1522 had the Crusaders using any available marble or stone to strengthen their stronghold, a castle in what is now known as Bodrum. To this day, many of the polished marble can be seen in the castle walls. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was known to be one of the longest standing Ancient Wonders before its demise.

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