The history spoke of many men building monuments for their wives. There was Hanging Garden of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and there is Taj Mahal, one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Amongst these marvellous dedications of men for their women, there was also one such monument which stood out as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Unlike the other two, this one was built by a woman in honour of her deceased husband. It was the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Apart from just being a wonder, the name of the monument had also become a generic term for all the monumental tombs in the world. It was one of the most impressive structures famous for its architectural embellishments and definitions.

How did this tomb get its name Mausoleum?

Mausoleum, as the name suggests was a monumental tomb. It was built in the honour of the king, Mausoleus, who died after 24 years of his rule in the kingdom of Halicarnassus, an ancient Greek city at the location of present day Bodrum in Turkey. He became king in 377 B.C. and ruled over Halicarnassus expanding his kingdom to the neighbouring territories. He was a man of his kind. Despite of his Persian locals, he was very fond of Greek tradition, designs and lifestyle. The more he founded cities with Greek designs; he encouraged Greek tradition in many of his cities as well. He even got married to his own elder sister, Artemisia. Together they both ruled the kingdom until 353 B.C. when King Mausoleus died. As a tribute and honour to the king, the tomb was thus built and it was named after him as Mausoleum. Not only did it become a splendid, enormous tomb but also was the first of its kind in the world. The structure became so famous for its sculpture and the designs that the world associated its name with all the monumental tombs.

Who built this tomb?

After the death of Mausoleus, Artemisia decided to build the most remarkable tomb of all time honouring her deceased husband. It was not just another tomb that she wanted to build; it was a tribute for their years of companionship. Though she was devastated, her determination was strong and left no stone unturned for making the grandiose tomb. She declared that no expenses would be spared and then sent out her messengers all across Greece in search of the best Greek sculptors. She wanted to incorporate Greek designs and traditions into the tomb because Mausoleus was an aficionado of anything that was Greek. Two of the best Greek architects, Satyrus and Pythius, were roped in for the overall design of the tomb. Few other architects such as Bryaxis, Leochares, Timotheus and Scopas of Paros, were also engaged for the sculptures to be sculpted on the tomb. Each of them had decorated each side of the tomb with the help of hundreds of workmen and craftsmen involved in the construction.

What were its structural features?

The tomb was started to build in 350 B.C. and it included a number of marvellous works of sculpture. It was constructed on a hill that overlooked the city of Halicarnassus and at the centre of a courtyard on a stone platform that was 32m high. There was a staircase from the courtyard to the top of the platform and the staircase was flanked by two stone lions. The outer wall of the courtyard also had carvings of different Greek gods and goddesses. At each corner, there were statues of warriors mounted on horsebacks, depicting as guards of the tomb. The entire tomb was towered nearly 45m above the platform. The design of the tomb could be divided into three parts with different artistic works for each part. From the platform raised a structure that had a square shape. The wall of this part had the mythological Greek actions sculpted all over it. These sculptures included the battle of ‘centaurs’ (mythical creatures who are half-human and half horse) and Lapiths (people of ancient Thessaly, present-day administrative region of Greece), and the Greek war with the Amazons, a race of all-female warriors. On the top of this section of the tomb, there stood 36 columns all around. Between the columns there were statues and behind the columns there was a solid block of stone which shared the weight of the tomb’s roof alongwith the columns. The roof was the last part of the tomb and it was a 24-step, 7m tall pyramid. On the rooftop, there was a sculpture made by Pythius which had the structure of a chariot pulled by four horses with Mausoleus and Artemisia in it.

When was the construction of the tomb completed?

The construction completed three years after it began in 353 B.C. Artemisia could not witness the completion of the tomb which she dedicated to her husband and she died 2 years after Mausoleus died. She was buried in an urn next to her husband’s tomb. Even after Artemisia’s death, the construction of the monumental tomb continued and was finally completed in 350 B.C. The complete structure stood tall and enormous on the hilltop with Mausoleus and Artemisia overlooking their city from the chariot on top of the tomb.

When was the tomb destroyed?

The tomb stood intact for another hundreds of years, nearly 17 centuries. Then, it was in the early 13th century, in 1404 A.D., a series of earthquake hit the tomb. As a result of it, there was a massive destruction of the tomb and the entire structure was destroyed, shattering the columns and the chariots to the ground. The only part that remained was the platform. After few years, the Crusaders, who were then known as Bodrum, occupied the city of Halicarnassus. They were known to have respect for the ancient culture and the sculptures. When there was a suspect that there could be an invasion from the Turkish in 1522, the Crusaders built Bodrum Castle using the stones of the Mausoleum. Thus, to build the castle, they had broken up the remaining structure of the tomb. Thus, the tomb does not exist anymore but some of the stones can still be found in the castle.

Add/View Comment
The most wonderful and precious element of universe is the human life which can only be guided by the right knowledge and right attitude. So, here is an ocean of knowledge, both in English and Hindi encompassing every detail and each facet of human life which ‘one must know’ in order to grow and attain the summits of success. A team of around 200 dedicated members is working ceaselessly to turn such a colossal dream into reality. We are confident that this portal will help bring change in people across the world.

Content creation, research, development and execution done in-house at Aatman Innovations.