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The Mausoleum

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was one of the Seven Wonder of the Ancient World given its name to all monumental vaults.


When the Persians expanded their ancient kingdom to include Mesopotamia, Northern India, Syria, Egypt, and Asia Minor, the king could not control his vast empire without the help of local governors or rulers - the Satraps. Like many other provinces, the Kingdom of Caria in the western part of Asia Minor (Turkey) was so far from the Persian capital that it was practically autonomous. From 377 to 353 BC, king Mausolus of Caria reigned and moved his capital to Halicarnassus. Nothing is exciting about Mausolus life except the construction of his tomb. The project was conceived by his wife and sister Artemisia, and the construction might have started during the king's lifetime. The Mausoleum was completed around 350 BC, three years after Mausolus death and one year after Artemisia's.

For 16 centuries, the Mausoleum remained in good condition until an earthquake caused some damage to the roof and colonnade. In the early fifteenth century, the Knights of St John of Malta invaded the region and built a massive crusader castle. When they decided to fortify it in 1494, they used the stones of the Mausoleum. By 1522, almost every block of the Mausoleum had been disassembled and used for construction.


The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
(Left; a Picture from British Museum in London - Right; a drawing)

Not a great deal remains of the most important monument, the Mausoleum. It had a rectangular floor plan with thirty-six Doric columns and it was surmounted by a pyramid-shaped roof with a frieze depicting a four-horse chariot and two statues perhaps representing Mausolus and Artemisia. Only a few marble fragments can be seen today but there are several drawings and pieces of recently unearthed sculpture. The other findings are in the British Museum in London.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
(Remains from the great Mausoleum at Halicarnassus)

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