Mausoleum At Halicarnassus: Amazing Facts About This Ancient Monument | Kidadl


Mausoleum At Halicarnassus: Amazing Facts About This Ancient Monument

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The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was once a spectacular monument.

It stood in the center of the coastal city of Halicarnassus. Halicarnassus was the capital city of Caria, which was a semi-autonomous kingdom in southwestern Anatolia (part of present-day Turkey).

The word 'mausoleum' comes from the name of this tomb. It was so famous in the ancient world that people began using the same term while talking about other stately tombs in any other part of the world. You most likely have heard about the Taj Mahal in India. It is also a funeral monument and is called a mausoleum.

This beautiful tomb was built by the ruler of Caria, Queen Artemisia, for her deceased husband and co-ruler, Mausaulos. Mausaulos was a great admirer of Greek culture and the Greek way of life. King Mausaulos had reigned jointly with his wife for almost 24 years until he died in 553 BC. A grieving Artemisia decided to commission the construction of the greatest tomb the world had ever seen until that point. She wanted to immortalize both her husband and herself through this venture. It took almost three years for the monument to be completed.

The period immediately after the death of Mausaulos experienced rebellions in parts of Caria; the island of Rhodes that Mausaulos had taken under his control earlier led to the revolt against the Carian rule. They even tried to destroy Halicarnassus by sending its navy to its shores. But a brilliant strategy saw Rhodes's plan fail, and as a measurer to teach them a lesson, the Carian soldiers successfully attacked Rhodes, and the city fell.

The queen died circa 550 BC, leaving the fate of the unfinished tomb at the hands of the artists and sculptors who were in charge. They carried on with their work to make sure this amazing structure reached completion, and they saw their names enter the history books.

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Mausoleum At Halicarnassus History

Due to the robust build, the mausoleum survived for hundreds of years. It was known in the middle ages as the great tomb of Asia Minor. The fairytale ended sometime around the 14th century after a series of earthquakes destroyed large parts of the tomb. At this point, the chariot at the topmost part of the tomb fell on the ground and was eventually covered with sediment.

It remained in that condition when the crusader knights of the order of St John arrived here from Malta. They had zero consideration for the tomb and took away most of what they found to build and fortify St Peter's Castle (later Bodrum castle). In the act of vandalism, the knights entered the crypt room and stole everything. Even the bodies of the late king and queen were stolen from the great coffin.

Later, in the 19th century, British archaeologists secured the remaining portions of the tomb and transported most of it to the British Museum. As it stands today, to get a glimpse of the mausoleum's glory, you must go to the British Museum and see the things that are on display there.

Famous Greek historian Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus.

Mausoleum At Halicarnassus Location

Next time you visit Turkey, visit the modern Turkish city of Bodrum if you find the time. Here, you will get to see the ruins of Mausaulos's tomb. The Halicarnassus of Mausaulos and Artemisia lies hidden under the city of Bodrum. The ancient site of the tomb is protected, and you may well take a local guide to understand the details of the place better.

Much of what existed of the structure after the earthquakes of the 14th and 15th centuries was looted by the crusader knights of the St John Order in the 15th century. These knights used the materials from the compound of the tomb to fortify the nearby Bodrum Castle.

So if you make your way to Bodrum Castle, you will find marble parts in the castle walls. They were initially part of the mausoleum.

Mausoleum At Halicarnassus Purpose

Although the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built primarily to house the mortal remains of Mausaulos and later Artemisia, it also served as a reminder of these rulers' power and prestige. Mausaulos was technically a satrap under the Persian Empire. Satraps were local rulers during the Persian Empire who were vested with the task of governing particular regions in the name of the Persian King. They held a lot of influence in their respective realms but ultimately were answerable to their overlord.

Mausaulos remained loyal to his Persian masters but increased his territory and wealth after a series of conquests early in his rule. He shifted his capital to coastal Halicarnassus to seize the opportunity of maritime trade and commerce. With a sizeable navy, Mausaulos could control large parts of the Greek islands near his capital. All the wealth that he accumulated would later be used in the construction of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

The queen understood that if she had to build something, it had to be gigantic and exquisite. When you look at the reconstructed version of the monument, you will find that its enormous size projected royal power and glory. 

Mausoleum At Halicarnassus Structure Design Details And Style

The site of the mausoleum was initially located on top of a hill at the center of the city of Halicarnassus. It was positioned in a way that it could be seen from a great distance afar. An outer wall surrounded the whole structure. It was mainly made of polished marble, and the structure sat on top of a large stone platform. The main building consisted of thirty-six columns, above which rested a stepped pyramid. The top sculpture consisted of a chariot that had four horses pulling it. Inside this marble chariot stood two huge human figures. One of them was a large statue of Mausaulos, and the other was of his queen.

The complex was protected in all directions by mounted stone warriors. There were decorative friezes on the walls of the main building. These friezes showcased some of the best works of the sculptor's art. Imageries of fight scenes involving warrior women could be seen on them. A series of stone lions were placed on the way towards the gate of the mausoleum room.

Ancient writers such as Herodotus, Antipater of Sidon, and Callimachus of Cyrene, have all talked about the visual and structural magnificence of the Mousoulos's tomb in their writings. Philo of Byzantium, while compiling a list of Seven Wonders of the ancient world, included the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in the list and described it second only to the Pyramids of Egypt! These wonders are part of the natural history of the earth.

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Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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