Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

         Mausoleum at Halicarnassus or Tomb of Mausolus was built 2400 years ago between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, the king of Persian Empire. The idea of the Tomb was conceived by his wife and sister Artemisia and the structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythis. The building was so beautiful and unique that it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Halicarnassus (Bodrum, Turkey) was the capital of a small regional kingdom in the coast of Asia Minor. From 377 to 353 BC, King Mausollos of Caria reigned in Mylasa (now Milas) and moved his capital later to Halicarnassus. Artemisia and Mausolus ruled from Halicarnassus over the surrounding territory for twenty-four years. Mausolus, although descended from local people, spoke Greek and admired the Greek way of life and government. He spent huge amounts of tax money to adorn the city. He built a massive fortified palace beside the harbour, walls and watchtowers, a Greek–style theatre and temple of Ares (God of War). He founded many other statues, temples and buildings of of Greek design along the coast. He started to make of Halicarnassus a capital fit for a warrior prince.

    In 353 B.C. Mausolus died, leaving his queen Artemisia broken-hearted. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the known world. To some other opinion the construction of the mausoleum begun during the king's lifetime as Artemisia planned to place a resting place for her body, and her husband's, after their death.

Artemisia decided that no money was to be spared on this wondrous tomb. She sent messengers to Greece to find the most talented artist of their time. The man who supervised the building of the temple was Scopas. Other famous artists who helped were, Braxis, Leochares, and Timotheus joined him as well as several hundred others. 

Artemisia lived for only two years after the death of her husband. The urns with their ashes were placed in the yet unfinished tomb. As a form of sacrifice ritual the bodies of a large number of dead animals were placed on the stairs leading to the tomb, and then the stairs were filled with stones and rubble, sealing the access. 

According to the historian Pliny the Elder, the craftsmen decided to stay and finish the work after the death of their patron "considering that it was at once a memorial of his own fame and of the sculptor's art." 

The monument was built on a hill and was almost square, with a total periphery of 45 meters (135 ft) in height. It was bounded by 36 columns. 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. Perched on top was the tomb's most important work of art. There were four massive horses pulling a chariot in which images of Mausolus and his queen Artimisia rode.

The beauty of the Mausoleum was not only in the structure itself, but in the decorations and statues that adorned the outside at different levels on the podium and the roof. These were tens of life-size as well as under and over life-size free-standing statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals and each of the four sides was adorned with sculptural relic created by each one of four Greek sculptors — Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus. 

The Mausoleum was different - so different from the Pyramid that it earned its reputation. The Mausoleum also holds a special place in history as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece. 

The tomb overlooked the city for 17 centuries, and was untouched until about 1404 A.D. Then a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the stone chariot crashing to the ground but still recognizable. Crusaders, who had occupied the city from the thirteen century onward, used the left over parts of the tomb to finish their castle. Today most of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus can be seen in the mausoleum room at the British Museum. 

Important Points

· Mausolus's queen Artemisia, was his sister too. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to marry their own sisters. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to be siblings; such incestuous marriages kept the power and the wealth in the family.

· Mausoleum at Halicarnassus became a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now associated with all stately tombs through our modern word ‘’mausoleum’’.

· Because the statues were of people and animals, the Mausoleum holds a special place in history, as it was not dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.

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  1. it was very intersting. thnx

  2. its my pleasure that you like it!

    thanks for reading my post......