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Mausoleum of Maussollos

Ancient Wonders of Earth

Mausoleum of Maussollos


The Mausoleum of Maussollos (or Mausoleum of Halicarnassus) was a tomb built between 353 and 350 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Maussollos, a governor in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, his wife and sister. The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyrus and Pythis. It stood approximately 135 feet in height, and each of the four sides was adorned with sculptural reliefs created by four famous Greek sculptors—Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas, and Timotheus.

The finished structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that the ancient historian Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The word mausoleum has since come to be used generically for any grand tomb, though "Mausol—eion" originally meant "dedicated to Mausol."

Modern buildings inspired by the mausoleum include Grant's Tomb in New York City; the Los Angeles City Hall; the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia; and the Scottish Rite House of the Temple on 16th Street in Washington, D.C.

Lives of Maussollos and Artemisia

Formal reconstructed image of the mausoleumIn 377 B.C.E. Halicarnassus was the capital of a small region and kingdom on the coast of Anatolia. In that year the ruler of the region, Hecatomnus of Milas, died and left the control of the kingdom to his son, Maussollos. Hecatomnus, a local governor under the Persians, took control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. After Maussollos and Artemisia, he had several other sons and daughters: Ada (adopted mother of Alexander the Great), Idrieus, and Pixodarus. Maussollos extended its territory as far as the southwest coast of Anatolia.

Maussollos and Artemisia ruled from Halicarnassus over the surrounding territory for 24 years. Maussollos, although descended from local people, spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.

Maussollos decided to build a new capital, a city as safe from capture and as magnificent as any to be seen. He chose the city of Halicarnassus and began to make it a capital fit for a warrior prince. At its port, if Maussollos's ships blocked a small channel, they would be able keep all enemy warships out. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dredged sand to make protecting breakwaters in front of the channel. On land, they paved squares, built streets and houses for ordinary citizens, and on one side of the harbor they built a massive fortress-palace for Maussollos. From this palace, with clear views out to sea and inland to the hills, an enemy's advances would be clearly seen.

On land, the workmen also built walls and watchtowers, a Greek-style theater and a temple to Ares, the Greek god of war.

Maussollos and Artemisia spent huge amounts of tax money to embellish the city. They commissioned statues, temples, and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city, Maussollos planned to place a resting place for his body after he was dead. It would be a tomb that would forever commemorate his glory and that of his wife, who was also his sister and queen.

The death of Maussollos

Scale model of the Mausoleum, at Miniatürk, IstanbulIn 353 B.C.E. Maussollos died, leaving Artemisia broken-hearted. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to marry their sisters. Such incestuous marriages kept the power and the wealth in the family. As a tribute to him, Artemisia decided to make the tomb he had planned truly splendid, a structure so famous that Maussollos' name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word mausoleum. The construction was also so beautiful and unique it became known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Soon after construction of the tomb began, Artemisia found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, a Greek island at the Aegean Sea, had been conquered by Maussollos. When the Rhodians heard about his death, they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisia hid her own ships at a secret location at the east end of the city's harbor. After troops from the Rhodian fleet disembarked to attack, Artemisia's fleet made a surprise raid, captured the Rhodian fleet and towed it out to sea.

Artemisia put her own soldiers on the invading ships and sailed them back to Rhodes. Fooled into thinking that the returning ships were their own victorious navy, the Rhodians failed to put up a defense and the city was easily captured, quelling the rebellion.

Artemisia lived for only two years after the death of her husband. The urns with their ashes were placed in the yet unfinished tomb. The bodies of a large number of sacrificed animals were placed on the stairs leading to the tomb, and then the stairs were filled with stones and rubble, sealing the access.



October 25, 2008

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Mausoleum of Maussollos. (2008, April 2). New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:42, May 24, 2009 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Mausoleum_of_Maussollos?oldid=681429. Link to this site---Terms of Service---Privacy policy---Contact Us

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