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Mapped: The Ancient Seven Wonders of the World

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ancient seven wonders of the world

The Ancient Seven Wonders of the World

From skyscrapers that defy gravity to tunnels below the sea, mankind’s civil engineering feats are all around us.

The complexity of older structures like the Great Wall of China, Chichén Itzá, and the Taj Mahal continue to captivate and fascinate visitors today, but it’s worth noting that “wonders” such as these are not a modern concept.

As far back as the 2nd century BCE, ancient guide books and poems were being written by Greeks that had toured the extent of Alexander the Great’s kingdoms, giving us the original “seven wonders of the world” from the Hellenistic world they knew at the time.

This graphic by Pranav Gavali looks at the original ancient seven wonders, including their modern-day locations and features, using data from Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.

Where Were the Seven Wonder of the World?

The original seven wonders of the world were built around the Mediterranean Sea and in the Middle East over a span of 3,000 years, all before the Common Era.

WondersModern LocationYear Created
Great Pyramid of GizaEgypt2,584 BCE
Hanging Gardens of BabylonIraq600 BCE
Temple of Artemis at EphesusTurkey550 BCE
Statue of Zeus at OlympiaGreece435 BCE
Mausoleum at HalicarnassusTurkey351 BCE
Colossus of RhodesGreece292 BCE
Lighthouse of AlexandriaEgypt280 BCE

From the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt to the Colossus in Rhodes, each wonder represents a different aspect of human ambition and ingenuity.

And while only one of the wonders still stands today, their legacy lives on. Let’s explore the stories behind the seven wonders of the world:

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza

— 2,584 BCE

The ancient Egyptians believed that death was a pitstop on the way to a new life, and royals were buried in massive royal tombs.

This 4,500-year-old pyramid was one such tomb, built for Pharaoh Khufu. Standing tall at an initial 147 meters (139 meters today), this monument is the oldest and largest of the seven wonders of the world. It is also the only ancient wonder still standing.

2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

— 600 BCE

The Gardens of Babylon are believed to have provided a stunning oasis in the middle of the desert in 600 BCE, with tiered gardens of trees, shrubs, and vines.

The common belief is that King Nebuchadnezzar II built these gardens for his wife Amytis, who missed the lush hills of her homeland Media (northwest Iran).

However, their existence has been disputed by historians which have struggled to find concrete archaeological evidence. They are commonly believed to have been destroyed by an earthquake after 700 years, making them the shortest-lived ancient wonder.

3. The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

— 550 BCE

Built in the 6th century BCE, this temple was dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. Even larger than a present-day football field and with more than 127 columns, it was the first all-marble temple ever built in Greece.

It was destroyed and rebuilt several times, with the third phase listed as the grandest world wonder. It was finally closed and destroyed around the start of the 5th century.

4. The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

— 435 BCE

In 435 BC, Greek sculptor Phidias was tasked with creating an enormous statue of Zeus in Olympia, the site of Temple of Zeus and the ancient Olympic Games.

The statue was seated on a throne made from ivory, gold, and wood, holding a massive scepter supporting an eagle in one hand and a small statue of Nike, the goddess of victory, in the other. It was believed to have been destroyed in the times of the Romans around 400 CE, but whether that was in a fire or if it were broken into pieces and sent to different cities, is unknown.

5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus

— 351 BCE

Much like today’s Alexandria or Babylon, Halicarnassus was a thriving ancient city and capital of Caria. Its most famous ruler was Mausolus, the king of Caria, and when building the capital he also commissioned an elaborate above-ground tomb for himself.

Built in 351 BCE, the Mausoleum was over 45 meters tall and adorned with stunning sculptures and intricate carvings. Though it was destroyed by many local earthquakes between the 12th and 15th centuries, its legacy lives on as the word mausoleum went on to define stately, magnificent tombs.

6. The Colossus of Rhodes

— 292 BCE

Back in 304 BCE, Greece’s harbor city of Rhodes successfully resisted a year-long siege, and its people celebrated by using abandoned weaponry to create an enormous statue of the ancient Greek god of the Sun, Helios.

It stood over the port entry to the city, and was about the same height (33 meters) as the Statue of Liberty from feet to crown. And though the Colossus technically fell after a 226 BCE earthquake, it lay on the ground and was still impressive for another 800 years.

7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria

— 280 BCE

Lighthouses serve as beacons for all those at sea, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria was no different. However, its impressive architectural design of 100 meters of sandstone and limestone was far from simple, being one of the world’s tallest man-made structures for centuries.

Built during the time of pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus on the small island of Pharos, it was said to have been crowned with a mirror that reflected sunlight during the day and fire at night, making it visible from up to 50 km away. Though the lighthouse was damaged in earthquakes and survived until 1480, “pharos” became the root word for lighthouse in Greek and many Romance languages.

The New Seven Wonders of the World

To reflect the continued usage and understanding of the term “seven wonders of the world,” the New 7 Wonders Foundation started a campaign to choose seven new wonders in 2001.

After a large and lengthy campaign, with some countries advocating for statues and others downplaying the new list, the final list of wonders was announced in 2007:

New WondersLocationYear Created
Great Wall of ChinaChina700 BCE
PetraJordan312 BCE
ColosseumItaly80 CE
Chichén ItzáMexico600 CE
Machu PicchuPeru1450 CE
Taj MahalIndia1643 CE
Christ the RedeemerBrazil1931 CE

And though it was not included as an option as an attempt to find “new” wonders, the Great Pyramid of Giza was still granted honorary status as a world wonder.

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This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

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Mapped: Chinese Provinces With Cities Over 1 Million People

Some Chinese provinces are so populous they rival entire countries. But how many of them have cities over a million people?

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A cropped map of all the Chinese provinces with cities over 1 million people.

Mapped: Chinese Provinces With Cities Over 1 Million People

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Almost two-thirds of the 1.4 billion Chinese population lives in an urban area. But how does this play out across the country’s geography?

This map shows the Chinese provinces with cities over a million residents. Data for this graphic is sourced from citypopulation.de.

Ranked: Chinese Provinces With Cities Over 1 Million People

China’s Guangdong province has 17 cities with a population size of 1 million or more. It is also China’s most populous province, home to 127 million people. This makes it comparable to the size of Japan, the 12th most populous country in the world.

RankProvinceCities With 1 Million People
1Guangdong17
2Jiangsu12
3Shandong9
4Hebei6
5Zhejiang6
6Liaoning5
7Guangxi*4
8Henan4
9Anhui3
10Fujian3
11Heilongjiang3
12Hubei3
13Hunan3
14Inner Mongolia*3
15Jiangxi3
16Jilin2
17Gansu2
18Shaanxi2
19Shanxi2
20Sichuan2
21Xinjiang*2
22Beijing**1
23Chongqing**1
24Guizhou1
25Hainan1
26Ningxia*1
27Qinghai1
28Shanghai**1
29Tianjin**1
30Yunnan1
31Hong Kong***1
32Macao***1

*Autonomous Region. **Direct-Administered Municipality. ***Special Administrative Region.

Jiangsu, ranked fourth in population overall, is the only other province which has 10+ cities with a million or more inhabitants.

Meanwhile, some of China’s most populous cities—Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, and Chongqing—are administered directly by the central government, and do not fall under provincial control.

In fact, Shanghai and Beijing have informal “population caps” to prevent them from growing larger, in a bid to reduce pollution, overcrowding, and pressure on public services.

On the other hand, Tibet’s cold climes and rugged terrain make for a sparsely-populated area, totalling 3 million people across 1.2 million km². Tibet is the only province-level division in China without a single city over a million residents.

All together, China has 105 cities with more than one million inhabitants. For comparison, India has 65, and the U.S. has nine.

Learn More About Population Metrics from Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, check out Interactive Map: The World as 1,000 People. This visualization shows how unevenly people are distributed across the globe, re-imagining the entire 8 billion human population as only 1,000 people.

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