Friday, October 5, 2007

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum of Maussollos, or Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a tomb built between 353-350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey), for Mausolus a provincial king in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia, his wife and sister.
It was designed by the Greek architects Satyrus and Pythius.
The structure was approximately 45-metres (135 feet) in height, and each of the four sides was adorned by a freize created by one of four famous Greek sculptors.

In 377 B.C the city of Halicarnassus was the capitol of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor. It was that year that Hecatomnus of Mylasa, died and left control of his kingdom to his son Mausolus. Mausolus in his life extended the territory even further so that it finally included most of Asia Minor. Mausolus, with his queen Artimisia, ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding territory for 24 years.

Maussollos decided to build a new capital, a city as hard to capture as it was magnificent to look at. He chose the town Halicarnassus.

Mausolus and Artemisia spent their huge amount of tax money on beautifying the city. They bought statues, temples, and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city Mausolus planned to place a resting place for his body after he was dead. It would be a tomb that would forever show how rich he and his queen were.

Then in 353 B.C, Mausolus died, leaving Artimisia brokenhearted. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him a splendid tomb. It became a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now associated with all tombs throughout our modern world - "mausoleum." The building was so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the world!

The tomb was built on a hill overlooking the city. The whole structure sat in an enclosed courtyard. At the center of the courtyard was a stone platform on which the tomb sat. The staircase was flanked by stone lions to the top of the platform. Along the outer wall of the temple there were many statues of gods and goddesses. At each corner were statues of warriors mounted on horseback, guarding the tomb.

At the center of the platform was the tomb itself. Made mostly of marble, it formed a square block which tapered to about 1/3 of the size of the mausoleums 140 foot height. This section was covered with relief sculptures showing action scenes from Greek myth/history. One statue showed the Greeks in combat with the Amazons, a race of the Warrior Women.

On top of this section of the tomb were 36 slim columns, nine per side, that rose another 1/3 of the height. Standing between each column was another statue
Artimisia lived only two years longer than Mausolus, both would be buried in the finished temple . According to the historian Pliny, the craftsman decided to stay and finish the tomb even after their leaders' deaths.

The Mausoleum overlooked the city of Halicarnassus for many centuries. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC and still undamaged after attacks by pirates in 62 and 58 BC. It stood above the city ruins for some 16 centuries. Then a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the stone chariot crashing to the ground.

By 1404 only the very base of the Mausoleum was still recognizable.

Some of the sculptures survived and are today on display at the British Museum in London. These include fragment of statues and many slabs of the frieze showing the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons.

There the images of Mausolus and his queen forever watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful tomb she built for him and that is now lost to eternity.
Colossal statue of a woman from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, traditionally identified as ArtemisiaColossal statue of a man from the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos, traditionally identified as Maussollos