|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. Mausolus, though
he was descending from the local people, spoke Greek and admired
the Greek government and their ways of life. He founded many
cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic
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!
Artemisia then 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. 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. Behind the columns was a solid block that carried the weight of the tombs ceiling. The ceiling, which made up most of the final 1/3 of the height, was in the form of a stepped pyramid. 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.
Soon after construction of the tomb started, Artimisia found herself in crisis.
Rhodes (an island in the Aegean sea) had been conquered by Mausolus and when they heard of Mausolus's death the Rhodians sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Artimisia knew the Rhodians plan and she hid a fleet of her own ships at a secret location on the east end of the city's harbor. After the troops from Rhodes got off the ship to attack, Artimisia's fleet made a surprise raid, and captured the Rhodians fleet and towed them out to sea.
Artimisia put her own soldiers on the invading ship and sent it back to Rhodes . Fooled into thinking it was their own ship, the Rhodians where tricked into thinking the ship was coming back from Halicarnassus with victory. Surprisingly the soldiers on the ship where people from Halicarnassus and the Rhodians didn't put up defenses against the soldiers from Halicarnassus.
So Rhodes was easily captured again.
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 tomb overlooked the city for many centuries, and was untouched until about 1404 A.D. It was ruined from a series of earthquakes. All that could be recognized as the Mausoleum was the large stone base.
Crusaders used the left over parts of the tomb to finish their castle.
One night a party of knights entered the tomb and found a huge coffin. It was too late to open it so they came back the next day to take any treasures that were there. The next day they were surprised to see the bodies missing. So the knights blamed the incident on the Moslem Village.
Today most of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus can be seen in the mausoleum room at the British Museum. There, the images of Mausolus and Artimisia watch over the beautiful tomb Artimisia built for Mausolus.
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