Thirty-One Ancient Wonders from Amazeing Art
Have you ever wondered what unknown stories might lie behind the relics of ancient civilizations? Here are 31 of the most impressive—and yet often still mysterious—architectural wonders from the distant past. They include the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Egyptian Labyrinth, Easter Island, and more. I've also posted the fascinating tales behind a few of these monuments.
It all comes from the Amazeing Art: Wonders of the Ancient World book, which contains 31 mazes and essays. I've posted some of the mazes here too, so just follow the little red arrows () to "get lost".
The Megalith Builders
Gigantiga and the Megalithic Temples on Malta 4th to 3rd millennium BC
This Mediterranean island was home to a complex stone-age civilization that disappeared just as the Egyptians began building the pyramids. Some believe that its inhabitants once worshipped an ancient Mother deity, the Great Goddess.
The Enigmas of Stonehenge 3rd to 2nd millennium BC
One of the oldest and most mysterious archaeological sites in the world. Although there are some tantalizing clues, including its astronomical alignments, its original purpose remains unknown.
The Mysteries of Egypt
The Lost Egyptian Labyrinth 20th century BC
This mysterious monument contained thousands of rooms and a fantastic maze hidden inside a pyramid decorated with colossal figures. It surpassed the pyramids, yet nothing but a vast field of scattered rubble now remains where it once stood...
The Pyramids: Tombs of the Pharaohs 2551 to 2470 BC
The Great Pyramid is one of humankind's greatest architectural achievements and was the tallest building in the world for more than four thousand years. A Wonder of the Ancient World.
The Riddle of the Sphinx 3rd millennium BC
For much of history, Egyptian pharaohs themselves worshipped the mysterious Sphinx as a god. One pharaoh even records a dream in which the Sphinx spoke to him, asking him to dig it out of the sand that was engulfing it.
Thebes, "The Most Esteemed of Places" 2100 to 300 BC
Few ruins in all of Egypt make a more overwhelming impression than this vast field of walls, obelisks, columns, colossi, and sphinx-lined processional avenues.
Abu Simbel: Monument of Ramesses the Great 1265 BC
One of his Ramesses II's most imposing monuments, Abu Simbel was built far up the Nile. Its impressive Colossi stand alone in the landscape: vast, silent and brooding.
Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East
Dedicated to the Sumerian moon god, a single bedchamber—occupied at night by just one woman—was all that was placed atop this ancient stepped pyramid.
The Temple of Solomon—and the Origins of the Lost Ark 10th century BC
The impressive and ornate Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem housed the Ark of the Covenant. The search for the origins of the Ark, which disappeared sometime before the 6th century BC, is as fascinating as the questions that surround its ultimate fate.
The Phoenician Sailing Ship 2nd to 1st millennium BC
Phoenician sailors were the master sea-traders of the ancient Mediterranean, and built the most advanced naval vessels of their time—wonders of the world in their own way. Their explorers, such as Hanno, journeyed far and wide. The Phoenicians may even have circumnavigated Africa, 2000 years before any European accomplished this feat.
Sennacherib's Royal Palace at Nineveh 9th to 7th centuries BC
This Assyrian palace was called "The Palace Without Rival," and it was half a kilometer long and of unparalleled splendor. So why did Sennacherib's heir Esarhaddon, a powerful and capable ruler, cast off his regal attire and hide—in fear for his life—on an obscure plot of farmland?
The Elusive Hanging Gardens 7th century BC
Archaeologists have searched the ruins of Babylon for the fabled Hanging Gardens for decades, yet have found almost nothing. Learn why, and where the Gardens may actually have been located. A Wonder of the Ancient World.
The Ziggurat of Marduk, Ancient Tower of Babel 7th century BC and earlier
The Biblical myth of the Tower of Babel was almost certainly inspired by the Ziggurat of Marduk at Babylon, an enormous seven-stage multicolored pyramidal tower over 300 feet in height.
Persepolis and the Persian Empire: King Xerxes's Dream 5th century BC
In one of history's momentous turning points, the Persian King Xerxes led an enormous invasion army against the Greeks. The impressive palaces at Persepolis were the result.
Anatolia: The Crossroad of Empires
Khattusha and the Lost Empire of the Hittites 13th century BC
Builders of the impressive fortifications at Khattusas, the Hittites learned the will of their gods in dreams, and slept on "pure beds" in sacred temples in the hopes of receiving a dream oracle.
Troy, "Where No Stone is Nameless" 13th to 12th century BC
The city of Troy and its legendary war have captivated the west for nearly 3,000 years. Julius Caesar himself wandered about the plains of Troy looking for a great citadel—but found little but overgrown trees. Read what Pausanias, the ancient Greek travel-writer, thinks is stupid about all this.
Greece and the Age of Heroes
Knossos: The Labyrinth and the Minotaur 2000 to 1400 BC
This palace, a vast interconnect complex of walls, private rooms, staircases, and small corridors, may have been the famous Cretan Labyrinth of antiquity.
Mycenae, Rich in Gold 13th century BC
The imposing Mycenaean walled fortresses were made of boulders so enormous, later generations of Greeks believed they had been built by a race of one-eyed Giants they called the Cyclops.
The Parthenon: Imperishable Glory of Athens 5th century BC
The Parthenon was the preeminent symbol of Athens' power and prestige. In ancient times it was painted: dark blue for the ceiling and walls, a glowing burnished gold for the columns, and many other hues.
The Statue of Zeus and the Olympic Games 430 BC
This Wonder of the Ancient World was a forty-foot tall gold and ivory statue that was the most celebrated artistic work on mainland Greece. The statue presided over the early Olympic Games.
The Expansion of the Greek World
The Temple of Artemis—"Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 4th century BC
A Greek temple famous for its imposing size and magnificent sculpture, this Wonder of the Ancient World was burned down by a madman in the 4th century BC who wanted to immortalize his name.
The Mausoleum: A Tomb to Rival the Egyptian Pyramids 352 BC
The impressive and ornate 140-foot high monumental tomb of the Anatolian king Mausolus was completed by his wife—who was also his sister. Read the Knights of Malta's strange reaction upon discovering its beautiful sculptures. A Wonder of the Ancient World.
A huge bronze statue, comparable in size to the Statue of Liberty, built on the island of Rhodes to commemorate a military victory. Toppled by an earthquake, this Wonder's ruins were a major tourist attraction for nearly 900 years.
The Pharos at Alexandria: Celebrated Lighthouse of Antiquity 280 BC
The largest and most famous lighthouse of the ancient world, built for a Greek king ruling Egypt. This Wonder was the first true high-rise building in the history of architecture.
The Romans: Splendor and Excess
The Forum: Heart of Rome 6th century BC and later
An open meeting area surrounded by public buildings and colonnades, the Forum was the political, commercial, and cultural center of Rome. All kinds of things—from the momentous to the bizarre—occurred there.
The Roman Aqueducts 3rd century BC and later
The later Roman aqueducts are spectacular reworkings of nature, whose sheer scale ensures their place among ancient marvels of engineering. Most of the water they brought into Rome was used for the opulent Roman Baths.
The Colosseum: Spectacles of the Arena 80 AD
Want to make the Roman girls sigh? Become a gladiator. Capable of seating up to 70,000 spectators, the Colosseum dominated the skyline of Rome. Admission to the games was always free—the Emperor's gift to the people.
The Pantheon: Eye of the Gods 118 AD
The Pantheon is remarkable both as a feat of engineering and for its manipulation of interior space—and for a time, it was also home to the largest pearl in the ancient world.
Elsewhere in the World
The Mayan Pyramids—and Lord Chocolate Bean 7th century AD
The Mayan pyramids were both temples and tombs, and atop them Mayan nobles, who believed that blood nourished the gods, underwent ritual self-torture and mutilation—all designed to keep the cosmos running smoothly.
Myths of the Great Wall of China 4th century BC to 17th century AD
One of the most ambitious and fantastic construction projects ever undertaken. The common notion that aggressive barbarian hordes compelled the Chinese to build the Great Wall in order to defend themselves, however, is not really true...
The Giants of Easter Island 1000 to 1500 BC
The unique Polynesian civilization that erected the gaunt, monolithic statues on Easter Island almost certainly collapsed from an ecological disaster they brought upon themselves.
The Midas Monument Lost Cities and Forgotten Empires
The Midas Monument is one of the few surviving relics of Phrygian civilization, which occupied Anatolia during a dark age in history. Evidence is accumulating that the demise of numerous cities—and even civilizations—have in some cases been the result of major global geologic and climatic upheavals.
"Will anybody compare the Pyramids, or those useless though renowned works of the Greeks, with these aqueducts?"
—Frontinus, Roman water commissioner, 1st century AD
"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it."
Thursday, August 21, 2014 11:56 pm | © 2002 - 2011 by Christopher Berg