(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
|Made of: White
in a mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Lycian styles
Honor of the King: The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
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. Mausolus's Death.
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 World.
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.
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.
The 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.
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 the rebellion.
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 recognizable.
Destruction by the
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Copyright 2011 Lee Krystek.