Friday, January 7, 2011

The Tomb of MausoLus,

The tomb of Mausolus (the derivation of the word "mausoleum") was built in Halicarnassus (now called Bodrum, in Turkey) between 353 and 350BC and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Mausolus was a Persian satrap who inherited his kingdom in 377BC and decided to build a new city for his capital: Halicarnassus. He married his sister Artemesia and the design of the new city was their joint project and passion. Artemesia was broken-hearted when Mausolus died in 353BC and she commissioned a lavish tomb for his memorial.

She employed the best artists in Greece: Scopas, who'd overseen the rebuilding of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, and three other famous sculptors, Leochares, Bryaxis and Timotheus. Each man took one side of the square building and carved wonderful statues of people, gods, goddesses, lions, horses and many other animals. There were friezes on the podium and roof, one of which showed the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons whose fragments can be seen in the British Museum. It was built on a hill overlooking Halicarnassus, on a platform in a courtyard. Stairs flanked by stone lions led up to it and stone warriors on horseback guarded each corner. The roof was in the shape of a pyramid and perched on the top was a huge chariot pulled by four horses which carried statues of Mausolus and Artemisia.

The tomb survived for 1600 years but was eventually destroyed by a series of earthquakes and by 1404 AD only the base remained.

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