The Seven Wonders of the ancient world were first defined by the Greek historian Herodotus, and then transcribed, argued about, and edited over hundreds of years. The group of wonders presented here was popularized by Philo of Byzantium in his work "On the Seven Wonders," written in 225 B.C.
The Great Pyramids at Giza
The only ancient wonder that still stands, the Pyramids of Egypt, are three pyramids at Giza, located outside modern Cairo. The largest pyramid, built by the pharaoh Khufu, a king of the fourth dynasty, had an original estimated height of 482 ft (now approximately 450 ft), which made it the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. The base has sides 755 ft long. It contains 2,300,000 blocks; the average weight of each is 2.5 tons. Estimated date of completion is 2680 B.C.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were supposedly built by Nebuchadnezzar around 600 B.C. to please his queen, Amytis of Media. They are also associated with the mythical Assyrian queen Semiramis. Archeologists surmise that the gardens were laid out atop a vaulted building, with provisions for raising water. The terraces were said to rise from 75 to 300 ft.
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was made of gold and ivory by the Greek sculptor Phidias in the 5th century B.C. Legend says that the statue, reputed to be 40 ft high, was moved from Olympia to Constantinople, where it was eventually destroyed in a fire.
The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
Though there had been temples on the spot for centuries, the most famous—and most lavish—version of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey) was begun about 550 B.C., and funded by Croesus of Lydia. Artemis was the goddess of fertility and the hunt. The temple, with Ionic columns 60 ft high, was destroyed by an act of arson.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was erected by Queen Artemisia in memory of her husband, King Mausolus of Caria in Asia Minor (now Turkey), who died in 353 B.C. It was eventually destroyed by earthquakes and further deconstruction by the Knights of St. John of Malta for building materials. Some remains of the structure are in the British Museum. This shrine is the source of the modern word "mausoleum."
The Colossus at Rhodes
Built after the city had successfully repelled a siege, the Colossus at Rhodes was a 105-foot-high bronze statue of Helios, the Greek sun god. Some renderings have the statue straddling the harbor of Rhodes, but most likely it stood to one side or even on a hill above the city. It stood upright for only 56 years until an earthquake snapped it at the knees. The ruins lay in the harbor for over 800 years and remained an ancient tourist attraction.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
The Lighthouse of Alexandria was built on the island of Pharos in the city's harbor. The tower measured between 380 and 490 ft high, making it the third-tallest building in the world (the two pyramids at Giza were the tallest). Originally, it was simply a large beacon, but was converted to a lighthouse in the 1st century B.C. It stood longer than all of the wonders save the pyramids, but was eventually destroyed by an earthquake in the 13th century.