Seven Wonders: Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:57
Year Produced: 2009
Description:

Just about all that is remembered about the minor regional kingdom around the ancient city of Halicarnassus is the tomb of one of its rulers. His name was Mausolus. Mausoleum, a variant of his name, is given to stately tombs even today.

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Transcript

Lead: Just about all that is remembered about the minor regional kingdom around the ancient city of Halicarnassus is the tomb of one of its rulers. His name was Mausolus. Mausoleum, a variant of his name, is given to stately tombs even today.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Bodrum is a small city with a population of just over 30,000 in southwestern Turkey. In ancient times it was known as Halicarnassus, colonized by Dorian Greeks. Perhaps its most famous native was the Greek historian, Herodotus (484-420 BCE), but its main claim to fame was a tomb.

In 377 BCE, Mausolus, the son of a nobleman in the Persian court was made Satrap--or regional governor--of Caria, a Persian province in and around present day Bodrum. Over a 24-year reign he and his queen and sister, Artimesia, gradually extended their rule over the surrounding region. They were apparently quite close and at Mausolus’ death in 353, Artimesia, using Greek architects and sculptors, constructed a magnificent tomb for her husband which, as described by Pliny the Roman naturalist, was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

The tomb was built on a raised platform high on a hill above the city, was constructed primarily of marble and rose 135 feet in height with intricate mythological carvings and delicate tapered Ionic columns supporting a pyramid-like roof. Crowning the structure was a huge chariot drawn by four stallions. Life-sized sculptures of Mausolus and Artimesia rode in the chariot, and the pair was eventually laid to rest in the burial chamber high in the mausoleum.

The building was largely intact until the 13th century when a series of earthquakes toppled the upper part of the structure and, in the following century, the base was used by Crusaders to build the Bodrum Castle. Excavations in the 19th and 20th centuries have confirmed the size and impressive nature of the original mausoleum.

Research assistance by Caroline Cobert, at the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.