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Seven Wonders of the World, Now and Then

Posted August. 08, 2002 22:26,   


The world’s seven wonders have been great monuments in the mankind’s history. But the list has varied since the ancient times. In some periods, the greatest wonder of all times, King Khufu’s Great Pyramid (26th Century BC) in Egypt was apparently missing.

To begin with, however, we wonder why there are seven, not six or eight. “Seven was referred to as a perfect number by the great mathematician Pythagoras, and it has been an holy number and a symbol of the universe in the west,” said Dr. Lee Jong-ho.

The list of seven wonders was first compiled by Philon, Greek linguist and engineer in the 3rd Century BC. After Alexander the Great returned from the east in 330 BC, the Greek scholar named seven greatest monuments for Greeks traveling to the east.

His list, the most widely-known version of Seven World Wonders, includes the Great Pyramid; the Lighthouse of Alexandria(Egypt, 3rd Century BC); Hanging Gardens of Babylon(Iraq, 9th Century BC); the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus(Turkey, 6th Century BC); the Statue of Zeus at Olympia(Greece, 5th Century BC); the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus(Greece 4th Century BC); the Colossus of Rhodes(Greece, 3rd Century BC). Except the Great Pyramid, however, all of the monuments were destroyed before the Middle Ages and cannot be found today.

And the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World are all related to Alexander the Great. “The Pyramid and the Hanging Gardens were the places once conquered by King Alexander, and the rest is closely linked to Greece where he was born,” Lee explained. This implies that the ruling class at that time compiled the list in a move to assure descendents of the King’s legitimacy.

A new list appeared during the Middle Ages, however. And the new version added Colosseum (Italia 1st Century); Stonehenge(England 19th- 17th Century BC); the Leaning Tower of Pisa(Italia 13th Century); the Church of Hagia Sophia(Turkey 6th Century); the Great Wall of China(China 3rd Century BC) to the Great Pyramid and the Lighthouse of Alexandria in the old list.

This one is less Greek and includes monuments built after the ancient times. In the modern world, the U.S. and France put Empire State Building and Eiffel Tower respectively. More recently, China added the Great Tomb of the ruler, Shi of Jin Dynasty as the 8th wonder.

Kwawg-Pyo Lee kplee@donga.com