Mausoleum at the ancient city of Halicarnassus was the tomb
of the king, Mausolus. (Copyright Lee
In 377 B.C., the city of Halicarnassus was the capitol
of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Asia Minor.
It was in that year the ruler of this land, Hecatomnus of Mylasa,
died and left control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus,
a local satrap to the Persians, had been ambitious and had taken
control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. Then
Mausolus during his reign extended the territory even further
so that it eventually included most of southwestern Asia Minor.
Mausolus, with his queen Artemisia, ruled over Halicarnassus
and the surrounding territory for 24 years. Though he was descended
from the local people, Mausolus 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.
(Modern Bodrum, Turkey)
for the City King, Mausolus
by earthquakes in 13th century A.D. . Final destruction by
Crusaders in 1522 A.D.
Size: 140 feet
of: White Marble
in a mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Lycian styles
Then in 353 B.C. Mausolus died, leaving his queen
Artemisia, who was also his sister, broken-hearted (It was the
custom in Caria for rulers to marry their own sisters). As a tribute
to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the
known world. It became a structure so famous that Mausolus's name
is now associated with all stately tombs throughout the world
through the word mausoleum. The building, rich with statuary
and carvings in relief, was so beautiful and unique it became
one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
Artemisia decided that no expense was to be spared
in the building of the tomb. She sent messengers to Greece to
find the most talented artists of the time. These included architects
Satyros and Pytheos who designed the overall shape of the tomb.
Other famous sculptors invited to contribute to the project were
Bryaxis, Leochares, Timotheus and Scopas of Paros (who was responsible
for rebuilding the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, another of the
wonders). According to the historian Pliny Bryaxis, Leochares,
Timotheus and Scopas each took one side of the tomb to decorate.
Joining these sculptors were also hundreds of other workmen and
craftsmen. Together they finished the building in the styles of
three different cultures: Egyptian, Greek and Lycian.
The tomb was erected on a hill overlooking the city.
The whole structure sat in the center of an enclosed courtyard
on a stone platform. A staircase, flanked by stone lions, led
to the top of this platform. Along the outer wall of the courtyard
were many statues depicting gods and goddesses. At each corner
stone warriors, mounted on horseback, guarded the tomb.
map of the city of Halicarnassus drawn by the archeologist
J D Barbiť du Bocage in 1802 showing the tomb in the middle
of the city.
At the center of the platform was the tomb itself.
Made mostly of marble, the structure rose as a square, tapering
block to about one-third of the Mausoleum's 140 foot height. This
section was covered with relief sculpture showing action scenes
from Greek myth/history. One part showed the battle of the Centaurs
with the Lapiths. Another depicted Greeks in combat with the Amazons,
a race of warrior women. On top of this section of the tomb thirty-six
slim columns rose for another third of the height. Standing in
between each column was another statue. Behind the columns was
a solid block that carried the weight of the tomb's massive roof.
The roof, which comprised most of the final third
of the height, was in the form of a stepped pyramid with 24 levels.
Perched on top was the tomb's penultimate work of sculpture craved
by Pytheos: Four massive horses pulling a chariot in which images
of Mausolus and Artemisia rode.
City in Crisis
Soon after construction of the tomb started Artemisia
found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, an island in the Aegean Sea
between Greece and Asia Minor, had been conquered by Mausolus.
When the Rhodians heard of 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, Artemisa 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.
In Honor of the King: The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Artemisa 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
Artemisa lived for only two years after the death
of her husband. Both would be buried in the yet unfinished tomb.
According to Pliny, the craftsmen decided to stay and finish the
work after their patron died "considering that it was at once
a memorial of their own fame and of the sculptor's art."
The Mausoleum overlooked the city of Halicarnassus
for many centuries. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander
the Great in 334 B.C. and was still undamaged after attacks by
pirates in 62 and 58 B.C.. It stood above the city ruins for some
17 centuries. Then a series of earthquakes in the 13th century
shattered the columns and sent the stone chariot crashing to the
ground. By 1404 A.D. only the very base of the Mausoleum was still
by the Crusaders
Crusaders, who had little respect for ancient culture,
occupied the city from the thirteen century onward and recycled
much of the building stone into their own structures. In 1522
rumors of a Turkish invasion caused Crusaders to strengthen the
castle at Halicarnassus (which was by then known as Bodrum) and
some of the remaining portions of the tomb were broken up and
used within the castle walls. Indeed, sections of polished marble
from the tomb can still be seen there today.
interpretation of the Mausoleum.
Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998
At this time a party of knights entered the base
of the monument and discovered the room containing a great coffin.
Deciding it was too late to open it that day, the party returned
the next morning to find the tomb, and any treasure it may have
contained, plundered. The bodies of Mausolus and Artemisia were
missing, too. The Knights claimed that Moslem villagers were responsible
for the theft, but it is more likely that some of the Crusaders
themselves plundered the graves.
Before grounding much of the remaining sculpture
of the Mausoleum into lime for plaster, the Knights removed several
of the best works and mounted them in the Bodrum castle. There
they stayed for three centuries. At that time the British ambassador
obtained several of the statutes from the castle, which now reside
in the British Museum.
Located by Charles Newton
In 1846 the Museum sent the archaeologist Charles
Thomas Newton to search for more remains of the Mausoleum. He
had a difficult job. He didn't know the exact location of the
tomb, and the cost of buying up all the small parcels of land
in the area to look for it would have been astronomical. Instead,
Newton studied the accounts of ancient writers like Pliny to obtain
the approximate size and location of the memorial, then bought
a plot of land in the most likely location. Digging down, Newton
explored the surrounding area through tunnels he dug under the
surrounding plots. He was able to locate some walls, a staircase,
and finally three of the corners of the foundation. With this
knowledge, Newton was able to figure out which additional plots
of land he needed to buy.
from the tomb can still be seen in Bodrum Castle even today.
(Released into public domain by Horvat)
Newton then excavated the site and found sections
of the reliefs that decorated the wall of the building and portions
of the stepped roof. Also, a broken stone chariot wheel from the
sculpture on the roof, some seven feet in diameter, was discovered.
Finally, he found two statues which he believed were the ones
of Mausolus and Artemisia which had stood at the pinnacle of the
building. Ironically, the earthquake the toppled them to the ground
saved them. They were hidden under sediment and thus avoided the
fate of being pulverized into mortar for the Crusaders castle.
Today these works of art stand in the Mausoleum
Room at the British Museum. There the images of Mausolus and his
queen forever watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful
tomb she built for him.