Monday, October 19, 2009

Lighthouse of Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria 2


Pharos was a small island just off the coast of Alexandria. (This later lead to the Latin word Pharos which means lighthouse.)It was linked to the mainland by a man-made connection named the Heptastadion, which thus formed one side of the city's harbor. As the Egyptian coast is very flat and lacking in the kind of landmark used at the time for navigation, a marker of some sort at the mouth of the harbour was deemed necessary — a function the Pharos was initially designed to serve. Use of the building as a lighthouse, with a fire and reflective mirrors at the top, is thought to date to around the 1st century AD, during the Roman period. Prior to that time the Pharos served solely as a landmark or day beacon.

Construction and destoy

The lighthouse was completed in the 3rd century B.C., after having been initiated by Satrap (governor) Ptolemy I Soter, Egypt's first Macedonian ruler and a general of Alexander the Great. After Alexander died unexpectedly at age 32, Ptolemy Soter (Saviour, named so by the inhabitants of Rhodes) made himself king in 305 B.C. and ordered the construction of the Pharos shortly thereafter. The building was finished during the reign of his son, Ptolemy Philadelphos.

According to legend, Sostratus was forbidden by Ptolemy from putting his name on his work. But the architect left the following inscription on the base's walls nonetheless:

"Sostratus, the son of Dexiphanes, the Cnidian, dedicated (or erected) this to the Saviour gods, on behalf of those who sail the seas"; the original Greek inscription "ΣΟΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ ΔΕΞΙΦΑΝΟΥ ΚΝΙΔΙΟΣ ΘΕΟΙΣ ΣΩΤΕΡΣΙΝ ΥΠΕΡ ΤΩΝ ΠΛΩΙΖΟΜΕΝΩΝ" literally means: "Sostratos of Dexiphanes [meaning: son of Dexiphanes] the Cnidian to Saviour Gods for the seafarers (or seafaring [ones])"

These words were hidden under a layer of plaster, on top of which was chiseled another inscription honoring Ptolemy the king as builder of the Pharos. After centuries the plaster wore away, revealing the name of Sostratus.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria

The lighthouse was badly damaged in the earthquake of 956, then again in 1303 and 1323. The fullest description of it comes from the Arab traveller Abou Haggag Youssef Ibn Mohammed el-Andaloussi, who visited the structure as a tourist in 1166. His description runs:

The Pharos rises at the end of the island. , about 8.5 metres (28 ft) each side. The sea surrounds the Pharos except on the east and south sides. This platform measures, along its sides, from the tip, down to the foot of the Pharos walls, 6.5 metres (21 ft) in height. However, on the sea side, it is larger because of the construction and is steeply inclined like the side of a mountain. As the height of the platform increases towards the walls of the Pharos its width narrows until it arrives at the measurements above.

On this side it is strongly built, the stones being well shaped and laid along with a rougher finish than elsewhere on the building. This part of the building that I have just described is recent because on this side the ancient work needed to be replaced.

On the seaward south side, there is an ancient inscription which I cannot read; it is not a proper inscription because the forms of the letters are carried out in hard black stone. The combination of the sea and the air has worn away the background stone and the letters stand out in relief because of their harshness. The A measures a little over 54 centimetres (21 in). The top of the M stands out like a huge hole in a copper boiler. The other letters are generally of the same size. The doorway to the Pharos is high up. A ramp about 183 metres (600 ft) long used to lead up to it. This ramp rests on a series of curved arches; my companion got beneath one of the arches and stretched out his arms but he was not able to reach the sides. There are 16 of these arches, each gradually getting higher until the doorway is reached, the last one being especially high.

The el-Andaloussi description of the dimensions does not appear to match the Thiersch drawing, the classic painting, or the graphic reconstruction, all of which show buildings with a footprint that would have been a square at least 80 feet (24 m) on a side, based on the scale of surrounding objects.[citation needed]

Fort Qaitbey was built on the site of the Pharos in the 15th century, using some of its fallen masonry.

There are ancient claims the light from the lighthouse could be seen from up to 35 miles (56 km) away. Unconfirmed legends claim the light from Pharos could burn enemy ships before they reached shore.

Constructed from large blocks of light-coloured stone, the tower was made up of three stages: a lower square section with a central core, a middle octagonal section, and, at the top, a circular section. At its apex was positioned a mirror which reflected sunlight during the day; a fire was lit at night. Extant Roman coins struck by the Alexandrian mint show that a statue of a triton was positioned on each of the building's four corners. A statue of Poseidon stood atop the tower during the Roman period.

A fanciful 16th-century interpretation of the Pharos by Martin Heemskerck

The Pharos' walls were strengthened in order to withstand the pounding of the waves through the use of molten lead to hold its masonry together[citation needed], and possibly as a result the building survived the longest of the Seven Wonders — with the sole exception of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was still standing when the Muslim traveller Ibn Jubayr visited the city in 1183. He said of it that: "Description of it falls short, the eyes fail to comprehend it, and words are inadequate, so vast is the spectacle." It appears that in his time, a church was located on the top.[citation needed]

The two earthquakes in 1303 and 1323 damaged the lighthouse to the extent that the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta reported no longer being able to enter the ruin. Even the stubby remnant disappeared in 1480, when the then-Sultan of Egypt, Qaitbay, built a medieval fort on the former location of the building using some of the fallen stone. The remnants of the Pharos that were incorporated into the walls of Fort Qaitbay are clearly visible owing to their excessive size in comparison with surrounding masonry.

The fate of the Lighthouse of Alexandria from the Arab conquest until its collapse in the 14th century has been investigated by Doris Behrens-Abouseif in her article "The Islamic History of the Lighthouse of Alexandria".[1]

Recent archaeological research

Some remains of the lighthouse were found on the floor of Alexandria's Eastern Harbour by divers in the autumn of 1994. More of the remains have subsequently been revealed by satellite imaging.

A Nova program chronicled the underwater discovery of the fabled Pharos lighthouse.[2] It is possible to go diving and see the ruins.


Pharos became the etymological origin of the word 'lighthouse' in Greek (φάρος), Bulgarian (фар) and many Romance languages, such as French (phare), Italian (faro), Portuguese (farol), Spanish (faro), Romanian, and Catalan (far).

The design of minarets in many early Egyptian Islamic mosques followed a similar three-stage design to that of the Pharos, attesting to the building's broader architectural influence.[3]

Pharos in culture

The Pharos of Abusir, an ancient funerary monument thought to be modeled after the Pharos at Alexandria, with which it is approximately contemporaneous

In architecture

Tower of Hercules, a Roman lighthouse modelled on the Pharos
  • A well-preserved ancient tomb in the town of Abusir, 48 kilometres (30 mi) southwest of Alexandria, is thought to be a scaled-down model of the Alexandria Pharos. Known colloquially under various names — the Pharos of Abusir, the Abusir funerary monument and Burg al-Arab (Arab's Tower) — it consists of a 3-story tower, approximately 20 metres (66 ft) in height, with a square base, a hexagonal midsection and cylindrical upper section, like the building upon which it was apparently modeled. It dates to the reign of Ptolemy II (285-246 BC), and is therefore likely to have been built at about the same time as the Alexandria Pharos.
  • The Tower of Hercules, near A Coruña in Spain, a 2nd century AD Roman lighthouse, is closely modelled on the Alexandrian Pharos.
  • A replica of the Lighthouse of Alexandria was constructed in the Window of the World Cultural Park in Shenzhen, China.
  • The design of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria, Virginia was partially inspired by the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Colossus of Rhodes

Siege of Rhodes

This drawing of Colossus of Rhodes, which illustrated The Grolier Society's 1911 Book of Knowledge, is probably fanciful, as the statue likely did not stand astride the harbour mouth.

Colossus of Rhodes, imagined in a 16th-century engraving by Martin Heemskerck, part of his series of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek god Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Before its destruction, the Colossus of Rhodes stood over 30 meters (107 ft) high, making it one of the tallest statues of the ancient world.[1]

Siege of Rhodes

Alexander the Great died at an early age in 323 BC without having had time to put into place any plans for his succession. Fighting broke out among his generals, the Diadochi, with four of them eventually dividing up much of his empire in the Mediterranean area. During the fighting, Rhodes had sided with Ptolemy, and when Ptolemy eventually took control of Egypt, Rhodes and Ptolemaic Egypt formed an alliance which controlled much of the trade in the eastern Mediterranean.

Antigonus I Monophthalmus was upset by this turn of events. In 305 BC he had his son Demetrius Poliorcetes, also a general, invade Rhodes with an army of 40,000; however, the city was well defended, and Demetrius—whose name "Poliorcetes" signifies the "besieger of cities"—had to start construction of a number of massive siege towers in order to gain access to the walls. The first was mounted on six ships, but these capsized in a storm before they could be used. He tried again with a larger, land-based tower named Helepolis, but the Rhodian defenders stopped this by flooding the land in front of the walls so that the rolling tower could not move.

In 304 BC a relief force of ships sent by Ptolemy arrived, and Demetrius's army abandoned the siege, leaving most of their siege equipment. To celebrate their victory, the Rhodians sold the equipment left behind for 300 talents[2] (roughly US$360 million in today's money) and decided to use the money to build a colossal statue of their patron god, Helios. Construction was left to the direction of Chares, a native of Lindos in Rhodes, who had been involved with large-scale statues before. His teacher, the sculptor Lysippos, had constructed a 22 meter (70 ft) high[3] bronze statue of Zeus at Tarentum.

Mausoleum of Halicarnassus

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Mausoleum of Mausolus or Tomb of Mausolus (in Greek, Μαυσωλεῖον της Ἁλικαρνασσοῦ) was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus , a satrap in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, his wife and sister. The structure was designed by the Greek architectsSatyros and Pythis.[1][2] It stood approximately 45 meters (135 ft) in height, and each of the four sides was adorned with sculptural reliefs created by each one of four Greek sculptors — Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus.[3] The finished structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The word mausoleum has since come to be used generically for any grand tomb, though "Mausoleion" originally meant "[building] dedicated to Mausolus".


623 BC, Halicarnassus was the capital of a small regional kingdom in the coast of Asia Minor. In 377 BC the ruler of the region, Hecatomnus of Milas, died and left the control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap under the Persians, took control of several of the neighboring cities and districts. After Artemisia and Mausolus, he had several other daughters and sons: Ada (adopted mother of Alexander the Great), Idrieus and Pixodarus. Mausolus extended its territory as far as the southwest coast of Anatolia. 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 founded many cities of Greek design along the coast and encouraged Greek democratic traditions.


Mausolus decided to build a new capital; a city as safe from capture as it was magnificent to be seen. He chose the city of Halicarnassus. If Mausolus' ships blocked a small channel, they could keep all enemy warships out. He started to make of Halicarnassus a capital fit for a warrior prince. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dragged sand to make protecting breakwaters in front of the channel. On land they paved streets and squares, and built houses for ordinary citizens. And on one side of the harbor they built a massive fortified palace for Mausolus, positioned to have clear views out to sea and inland to the hills — places from where enemies could attack.

On land, the workmen also built walls and watchtowers, a Greek–style theatre and a temple to Ares — the Greek god of war.

Artemisia and Mausolus spent huge amounts of tax money to embellish the city. They commissioned statues, temples and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city Artemisia planned to place a resting place for her body, and her husband's, after their death. It would be a tomb that would forever show how rich they were.

In 353 BC Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia broken-hearted. It was the custom in Caria for rulers to be siblings; such incestuous marriages kept the power and the wealth in the family. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb, a structure so famous that Mausolus's name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word mausoleum. The construction was also so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Soon after construction of the tomb started, Artemisia found herself in a crisis. Rhodes, a Greek island at the Aegean Sea, had been conquered by her and Mausolus. When the Rhodians heard about her husband's death, they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisia hid her own ships at a secret location at the east end of the city's harbor. After troops from the Rhodian fleet disembarked to attack, Artemisia's fleet made a surprise raid, captured the Rhodian fleet and towed it out to sea. Artemisia put her own soldiers on the invading ships and sailed them back to Rhodes. Fooled into thinking that the returning ships were their own victorious navy, the Rhodians failed to put up a defense and the city was easily captured, quelling the rebellion.

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, 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."

Scale model of the Mausoleum at Miniatürk, Istanbul

Construction of the Mausoleum

Artemisia spared no expense in building the tomb. She sent messengers to Greece to find the most talented artists of the time. These included Scopas, the man who had supervised the rebuilding of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus. The famous sculptors were (in the Vitruvius order) Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas and Timotheus, as well as hundreds of other craftsmen.

The tomb was erected 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. A stairway flanked by stone lions led to the top of the platform, which bore along its outer walls many statues of gods and goddess. At each corner, stone warriors mounted on horseback guarded the tomb. At the center of the platform, the marble tomb rose as a square tapering block to one-third of the Mausoleum's 45-meter (135 ft) height. This section was covered with bas-reliefs showing action scenes, including the battle of the centaurs with the lapiths and Greeks in combat with the Amazons, a race of warrior women.

On the top of this section of the tomb thirty-six slim columns, ten per side, with each corner sharing one column between two sides; rose for another third of the height. Standing between each column was a statue. Behind the columns was a solid cella-like block that carried the weight of the tomb's massive roof. The roof, which comprised most of the final third of the height, was pyramidal. Perched on the top was a quadriga: four massive horses pulling a chariot in which rode images of Mausolus and Artemisia.

This lion is among the few free-standing sculptures from the Mausoleum at the British Museum

Medieval and modern times

The Mausoleum overlooked the city of Halicarnassus for many years. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander III of Macedon in 334 BC and still undamaged after attacks by pirates in 62 and 58 BC. It stood above the city's ruins for sixteen centuries. Then a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the bronze chariot crashing to the ground. By 1404 AD only the very base of the Mausoleum was still recognizable.

Fanciful interpretation of the Mausoleum, from a 1572 engraving by Marten Heemskerk

In the early fifteenth century, the Knights of St John of Malta invaded the region and built a massive castle called Bodrum Castle. When they decided to fortify it in 1494, they used the stones of the Mausoleum. In 1522 rumors of a Turkish invasion caused the Crusaders to strengthen the castle at Halicarnassus (which was by then known as Bodrum) and much of the remaining portions of the tomb were broken up and used in the castle walls. Sections of polished marble from the tomb can still be seen there today.

At this time a party of knights entered the base of the monument and discovered the room containing a great coffin. In many histories of the Mausoleum one can find the following story of what happened: The party, deciding it was too late to open it that day, returned the next morning to find the tomb, and any treasure it may have contained, plundered. The bodies of Mausolus and Artemisia were missing too. The Knights claimed that Muslim villagers were responsible for the theft. Today, on the walls of the small museum building next to the site of the Mausoleum we find a different story. Research done by archeologists in the 1960s shows that long before the knights came, grave robbers had dug a tunnel under the grave chamber, stealing its contents. Also the museum states that it is most likely that Mausolus and Artemisia were cremated, so only an urn with their ashes were placed in the grave chamber. This explains why no bodies were found.

Before grinding and burning much of the remaining sculpture of the Mausoleum into lime for plaster, the Knights removed several of the best works and mounted them in the Bodrum castle. There they stayed for three centuries.

The design of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne was inspired by that of the Mausoleum

In the 19th century a British consul obtained several of the statues from the castle, which now reside in the British Museum. In 1852 the British Museum sent the archaeologist Charles Thomas Newton to search for more remains of the Mausoleum. He had a difficult job. He didn't know the exact location of the tomb, and the cost of buying up all the small parcels of land in the area to look for it would have been astronomical. Instead Newton studied the accounts of ancient writers like Pliny to obtain the approximate size and location of the memorial, then bought a plot of land in the most likely location. Digging down, Newton explored the surrounding area through tunnels he dug under the surrounding plots. He was able to locate some walls, a staircase, and finally three of the corners of the foundation. With this knowledge, Newton was able to determine which plots of land he needed to buy.

Newton then excavated the site and found sections of the reliefs that decorated the wall of the building and portions of the stepped roof. Also discovered was a broken stone chariot wheel some two metres (7 ft) in diameter, which came from the sculpture on the Mausoleum's roof. Finally, he found the statues of Mausolus and Artemisia that had stood at the pinnacle of the building. Newton carried blocks of marble in October 1857 from this site by the HMS Supply and landed them in Malta. This blocks of marbles used for the construction of a new dock in Malta for the Royal Navy. Today this dock is known at Dock No. 1 in Cospicua, but the building blocks are hidden from the view, covered by sea of the Dockyard Creek in the Grand Harbour. From 1966 to 1977, the Mausoleum was thoroughly researched by Prof. Kristian Jeppesen of Aarhus University, Denmark. He has produced a six-volume work on the Mausoleum called "The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos".

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: statues of people, lions, horses, and other animals in varying scales. The four Greek sculptors who carved the statues: Bryaxis, Leochares, Scopas and Timotheus were each responsible for one side. 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.

The Masonic House of the Temple of the Scottish Rite, Washington, DC, John Russell Pope, architect, 1911-15, is a more scholarly version

Nowadays, the massive castle of the Knights of Malta still stands in Bodrum, and the polished stone and marble blocks of the Mausoleum can be spotted built into the walls of the structure. At the site of the Mausoleum itself, only the foundation remains, together with a small museum. Some of the surviving sculptures at the British Museum include fragment of statues and many slabs of the frieze showing the battle between the Greeks and the Amazons. There the images of Mausolus and his queen forever watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful tomb she built for him.

(and in turn Modern buildings based upon the Mausoleum of Maussollos include Grant's Tomb and 26 Broadway in New York City; Los Angeles City Hall; the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia; the spire of St. George's Church, Bloomsbury in London; the Indiana War MemorialChase Tower) in Indianapolis;[4], the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's headquarters, the House of the Temple in Washington D.C., the Civil Courts Building in St. Louis, and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Pittsburgh[5].

Temple of Artemis

Temple of Artemis,

Model of Temple of Artemis, Miniature Park, Istanbul, Turkey

The Temple of Artemis (Greek: Ἀρτεμίσιον Artemision), also known less precisely as Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to Artemis completed— in its most famous phase— around 550 BC at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey). Though the monument was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only foundations and sculptural fragments of the temple remain. There were previous temples on its site, where evidence of a sanctuary dates as early as the Bronze Age. The whole temple was made of marble except for the roof.

The new temple antedated the Ionic immigration by many years. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed the origin of the temenos at Ephesus to the Amazons, whose worship he imagines already centered upon an image (bretas). In the seventh century the old temple was destroyed by a flood. The construction of the "new" temple, which was to become known as one of the wonders of the ancient world, began around 550 BC. It was a 120-year project, initially designed and built by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes, at the expense of Croesus of Lydia.

It was described by Antipater of Sidon, who compiled the list of the Seven Wonders:

I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand".[1]


Synthesizing Artemis of Ephesus: an 18th-century engraving of a Roman marble copy of a Greek replica of a lost Geometric period xoanon.

The Temple of Artemis was located near the ancient city of Ephesus, about 50 km south from the modern port city of İzmir, in Turkey. Today the site lies on the edge of the modern town of Selçuk.

Ephesian Artemis

Artemis was a Greek goddess, the virginal huntress and twin of Apollo, who supplanted the Titan Selene as goddess of the Moon. Of the Olympian goddesses who inherited aspects of the Great Goddess of Crete, Athena was more honored than Artemis at Athens. At Ephesus, a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was passionately venerated in an archaic, certainly pre-Hellenic cult image[2] that was carved of wood and kept decorated with jewelry. Robert Fleischer identified as decorations of the primitive xoanon the changeable features that since Minucius Felix and Jerome's Christian attacks on pagan popular religion had been read as many breasts or "eggs" — denoting her fertility (others interpret the objects to represent the testicles of sacrificed bulls that would have been strung on the image, with similar meaning). Most similar to Near-Eastern and Egyptian deities, and least similar to Greek ones, her body and legs are enclosed within a tapering pillar-like term, from which her feet protrude. On the coins minted at Ephesus, the apparently many-breasted goddess wears a mural crown (like a city's walls), an attribute of Cybele (see polos). On the coins she rests either arm on a staff formed of entwined serpents or of a stack of ouroboroi, the eternal serpent with its tail in its mouth. Something the Lady of Ephesus had in common with Cybele was that each was served by temple slave-women, or hierodules (hiero "holy", doule "female slave"), under the direction of a priestess who inherited her role, attended by a college of eunuch priests called "Megabyzoi"[3] and also by young virgins (korai).[4]

Traditional many-breasted interpretation in a 16th-century fountain of Diana Efesina, Villa d'Este

The "eggs" or "breasts" of the Lady of Ephesus, it now appears, must be the iconographic descendents of the amber gourd-shaped drops, elliptical in cross-section and drilled for hanging, that were rediscovered in 1987-88; they remained in situ where the ancient wooden cult figure of the Lady of Ephesus had been caught by an eighth-century flood (see History below). This form of breast-jewelry, then, had already been developed by the Geometric Period. A hypothesis offered by Gerard Seiterle, that the objects in Classical representations represented bulls' scrotal sacs[5] cannot be maintained (Fleischer, "Neues zur kleinasiatischen Kultstatue" Archäologischer Anzeiger 98 1983:81-93; Bammer 1990:153).

A votive inscription mentioned by Florence Mary Bennett,[6] which dates probably from about the third century BC, associates Ephesian Artemis with Crete: "To the Healer of diseases, to Apollo, Giver of Light to mortals, Eutyches has set up in votive offering [a statue of] the Cretan Lady of Ephesus, the Light-Bearer."

The Greek habits of syncretism assimilated all foreign gods under some form of the Olympian pantheon familiar to them— in interpretatio graeca— and it is clear that at Ephesus, the identification with Artemis that the Ionian settlers made of the "Lady of Ephesus" was slender.

The Christian approach was at variance with the tolerant syncretistic approach of pagans to gods who were not theirs. A Christian inscription at Ephesus[7] suggests why so little remains at the site:

"Destroying the delusive image of the demon Artemis, Demeas has erected this symbol of Truth, the God that drives away idols, and the Cross of priests, deathless and victorious sign of Christ."

The Lady of Ephesus, 1st century AD (Museum of Efes, Turkey)

The assertion that the Ephesians thought that their cult image had fallen from the sky, though it was a familiar origin-myth at other sites, is only known at Ephesus from Acts 19:35:

"What man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the [image] which fell down from Jupiter?"

Lynn LiDonnici observes that modern scholars are likely to be more concerned with origins of the Lady of Ephesus and her iconology than her adherents were at any point in time, and are also prone to creating a synthetic account of the Lady of Ephesus by drawing together documentation that ranges over more than a millennium in its origins, creating a falsified, unitary picture, as of an unchanging icon.[8]


The sacred site at Ephesus was far older than the Artemision. Pausanias[9] understood the shrine of Artemis there to be very ancient. He states with certainty that it antedated the Ionic immigration by many years, being older even than the oracular shrine of Apollo at Didyma. He said that the pre-Ionic inhabitants of the city were Leleges and Lydians. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed the origin of the temenos at Ephesus to the Amazons, whose worship he imagines already centered upon an image (bretas).

Pre-World War I excavations by David George Hogarth,[10] who identified three successive temples overlying one another on the site, and corrective re-excavations in 1987-88[11] have confirmed Pausanias' report.

Test holes have confirmed that the site was occupied as early as the Bronze Age, with a sequence of pottery finds that extend forward to Middle Geometric times, when the clay-floored peripteral temple was constructed, in the second half of the eighth century BC.[12] The peripteral temple at Ephesus was the earliest example of a peripteral type on the coast of Asia Minor, and perhaps the earliest Greek temple surrounded by colonnades anywhere.

The Temple of Artemis, as imagined in this hand-coloured engraving by Martin Heemskerck (1498 - 1574), has the "old-fashioned" look of Santa Maria Novella in Florence and other Italian quattrocento churches of the previous generation.

In the seventh century, a flood[13] destroyed the temple, depositing over half a meter of sand and scattering flotsam over the former floor of hard-packed clay. In the flood debris were the remains of a carved ivory plaque of a griffin and the Tree of Life, apparently North Syrian. More importantly, flood deposits buried in place a hoard against the north wall that included drilled amber tear-shaped drops with elliptical cross-sections, which had once dressed the wooden effigy of the Lady of Ephesus; the xoanon itself must have been destroyed in the flood. Bammer notes that though the flood-prone site was raised by silt deposits about two metres between the eighth and sixth centuries, and a further 2.4 m between the sixth and the fourth, the site was retained: "this indicates that maintaining the identity of the actual location played an important role in the sacred organization" (Bammer 1990:144).

The new temple, now built of marble, with its peripteral columns doubled to make a wide ceremonial passage round the cella, was designed and constructed around 550 BC by the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes. A new ebony or grapewood cult statue was sculpted by Endoios,[14] and a naiskos to house it was erected east of the open-air altar.

This enriched reconstruction was built at the expense of Croesus, the wealthy king of Lydia.[15] The rich foundation deposit of more than a thousand items has been recovered: it includes what may be the earliest coins of the silver-gold alloy electrum. Fragments of the bas-reliefs on the lowest drums of Croesus' temple, preserved in the British Museum, show that the enriched columns of the later temple, of which a few survive (illustration, below right) were versions of the earlier feature. Marshy ground was selected for the building site as a precaution against future earthquakes, according to Pliny the Elder.[16] The temple became a tourist attraction, visited by merchants, kings, and sightseers, many of whom paid homage to Artemis in the form of jewelry and various goods. Its splendor also attracted many worshipers.

Croesus' temple was a widely respected place of refuge, a tradition that was linked in myth with the Amazons who took refuge there, both from Heracles and from Dionysus.


The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was destroyed on July 21, 356 BC in an act of arson committed by Herostratus. According to the story, his motivation was fame at any cost, thus the term herostratic fame.

A man was found to plan the burning of the temple of Ephesian Diana so that through the destruction of this most beautiful building his name might be spread through the whole world. Valerius Maximus, VIII.14.ext.5

The Ephesians, outraged, consigned Herostratus to torture and his name to oblivion. Theopompus later noted the name, which is how it is known today.[17]

That very same night, Alexander the Great was born. Plutarch remarked that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple. Alexander later offered to pay for the temple's rebuilding, but the Ephesians refused. Eventually, the temple was restored after Alexander's death, in 323 BC.

Drum from the base of a column from the fourth-century rebuilding (British Museum)

This reconstruction was itself destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 262, in the time of emperor Gallienus: "Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Hellespont to Asia. There they laid waste many populous cities and set fire to the renowned temple of Diana at Ephesus," reported Jordanes in Getica.[18]

The Ephesians rebuilt the temple again. At Ephesus, according to the second-century Acts of John, the apostle John prayed publicly in the very Temple of Artemis, exorcising its demons and "of a sudden the altar of Artemis split in many pieces... and half the temple fell down," instantly converting the Ephesians, who wept, prayed or took flight.[19] Over the course of the fourth century, perhaps the majority of Ephesians did convert to Christianity; all temples were declared closed by Theodosius I in 391.

In 401, the temple in its last version was finally destroyed by a mob led by St. John Chrysostom,[20] and the stones were used in construction of other buildings. Some of the columns in Hagia Sophia originally belonged to the temple of Artemis,[21] and the Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai records the re-use of several statues and other decorative elements throughout Constantinople.

The main primary sources for the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus are Pliny the Elder's Natural History XXXVI.xxi.95, Pomponius Mela i:17, and Plutarch's Life of Alexander III.5 (referencing the burning of the Artemiseum).


The site of the temple today.

After sixty years of patient searching, the site of the temple was rediscovered in 1869 by an expedition sponsored by the British Museum led by John Turtle Wood;[22] excavations continued until 1879. A few further fragments of sculpture were found during the 1904-06 excavations directed by D.G. Hogarth. The recovered sculptured fragments of the fourth-century rebuilding and a few from the earlier temple, which had been used in the rubble fill for the rebuilding, were assembled and displayed in the "Ephesus Room" of the British Museum.

Today the site of the temple, which lies just outside Selçuk, is marked by a single column constructed of dissociated fragments discovered on the site.

Architecture and art

Most of the physical description and art within the Temple of Artemis comes from Pliny, though there are different accounts, and the actual size varies.

Pliny describes the temple as 377 feet (115 meters) long and 180 feet (55 meters) wide, made almost entirely of marble, making its area about three times as large as the Parthenon. The temple's cella was enclosed in colonnades of 127 Ionic columns, each 60 feet (18 meters) in height.

The Temple of Artemis housed many fine works of art. Sculptures by renowned Greek sculptors Polyclitus, Pheidias, Cresilas, and Phradmon adorned the temple, as well as paintings and gilded columns of gold and silver. The sculptors often competed at creating the finest sculpture. Many of these sculptures were of Amazons, who were said to have founded the city of Ephesus.

Pliny tells us that Scopas, who also worked on the Mausoleum of Mausollos, worked carved reliefs into the temple's columns. Athenagoras of Athens names Endoeus, a pupil of Daedalus, as the sculptor of the main statue of Artemis in Ephesus.

Cult and influence

The Temple of Artemis was located at an economically robust region, drawing merchants and travellers from all over Asia Minor. The temple was influenced by many beliefs, and can be seen as a symbol of faith for many different peoples. The Ephesians worshiped Cybele, and incorporated many of their beliefs into the worship of Artemis. Artemisian Cybele became quite contrasted from her Roman counterpart, Diana. The cult of Artemis attracted thousands of worshipers from far-off lands.

Statue of Zeus at Olympia

A fanciful reconstruction of Phidias' statue of Zeu

A fanciful reconstruction of Phidias' statue of Zeus, in an engraving made by Philippe Galle in 1572, from a drawing by Maarten van Heemskerck.
Roman Seated Zeus, marble and bronze (restored), following the type established by Phidias (Hermitage Museum)
Coin of Elis illustrating the Olympian Zeus (Nordisk familjebok)

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, circa 432 BC on the site where it was erected in the Temple of Zeus, Olympia, Greece. It was considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. For six hundred years after the death of the sculptor, people from all over the civilised world travelled to view it as it was thought to be a misfortune to die without seeing this work.[1]


The seated statue, some 12 metres (39 feet) tall, occupied the whole width of the aisle of the temple built to house it. "It seems that if Zeus were to stand up," the geographer Strabo noted early in the first century BC, "he would unroof the temple."[2] The Zeus was a chryselephantine sculpture, made of ivory and gold-plated bronze. No copy, in marble or bronze, has survived, though there are recognisable but approximate versions on coins of nearby Elis and on Roman coins and engraved gems.[3] A very detailed description of the sculpture and its throne was recorded by the traveller Pausanias, in the second century AD. The sculpture was wreathed with shoots of olive and seated on a magnificent throne of cedarwood, inlaid with ivory, gold, ebony, and precious stones. In Zeus' right hand there was a small statue of crowned Nike, goddess of victory, also chryselephantine, and in his left hand, a sceptre inlaid with gold, on which an eagle perched.[4] Plutarch, in his Life of the Roman general Aemilius Paulus, records that the victor over Macedon, when he beheld the statue, “was moved to his soul, as if he had seen the god in person,” while the Greek orator Dio Chrysostom declared that a single glimpse of the statue would make a man forget all his earthly troubles.[5]

The date of the statue, in the third quarter of the fifth century BC, long a subject of debate, was confirmed archaeologically by the rediscovery and excavation of Phidias' workshop.

According to a legend, when Phidias was asked what inspired him -- whether he climbed Mount Olympus to see Zeus, or whether Zeus came down from Olympus so that Pheidias could see him -- the artist answered that he portrayed Zeus according to Book One, verses 528 – 530 of Homer's Iliad [6]:

ἦ καὶ κυανέῃσιν ἐπ' ὀφρύσι νεῦσε Κρονίων
ἀμβρόσιαι δ' ἄρα χαῖται ἐπερρώσαντο ἄνακτος
κρατὸς ἀπ' ἀθανάτοιο μέγαν δ' ἐλέλιξεν Ὄλυμπον.
He spoke, the son of Kronos, and nodded his head with the dark brows,
and the immortally anointed hair of the great god
swept from his divine head, and all Olympos was shaken. [7]

The sculptor also was reputed to have immortalised his eromenos, Pantarkes, by carving "Pantarkes kalos" into the god's little finger, and placing a relief of the boy crowning himself at the feet of the statue.[8]

Loss and destruction

The circumstances of its eventual destruction are a source of debate: the eleventh-century Byzantine historian Georgios Kedrenos[9] recorded the tradition that it was carried off to Constantinople, where it was destroyed in the great fire of the Lauseion, in AD 475.[10] Others argue that it perished with the temple when it burned in AD 425. According to Lucian of Samosata in the later second century, "they have laid hands on your person at Olympia, my lord High-Thunderer, and you had not the energy to wake the dogs or call in the neighbours; surely they might have come to the rescue and caught the fellows before they had finished packing up the swag."[11]

The workshop of Phidias at Olympia.

Phidias' workshop rediscovered

Perhaps the greatest discovery came in 1954-58 with the excavation of the workshop at Olympia where Phidias created the statue. Tools, terracotta moulds and a cup inscribed "I belong to Pheidias" were found here, where the traveller Pausanias said the Zeus was constructed.[12][13][14] This has enabled archaeologists to re-create the techniques used to make the great work and confirm its date.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Hanging Gardens of Babylon

An ancient depiction of the Hanging Gardens. Irrigation on an artificial slope.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, also known as the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis, near present-day Al Hillah, Babil in Iraq, are considered to be one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. They were built by the Chaldean king Nebuchadnezzar II around 600 BC. He is reported to have constructed the gardens to please his sick wife, Amytis of Media, who longed for the trees and fragrant plants of her homeland Persia.[1] The gardens were destroyed by several earthquakes after the 2nd century BC.

The lush Hanging Gardens are extensively documented by Greek historians such as Strabo and Diodorus Siculus. Through the ages, the location may have been confused with gardens that existed at Nimrud, since tablets from there clearly show gardens. Writings on these tablets describe the possible use of something similar to an Archimedes screw as a process of raising the water to the required height.[citation needed] Nebuchadnezzar II also used massive slabs of stone, which was unhear

Greek references

Gardens of Semiramis, 20th century interpretation

The Greek Historian Strabo:

"Babylon, too, lies in a plain; and the circuit of its wall is three hundred and eighty-five stadia. The thickness of its wall is thirty-two feet; the height thereof between the towers is fifty cubits; that of the towers is sixty cubits; the passage on top of the wall is such that four-horse chariots can easily pass one another; and it is on this account that this and the hanging garden are called one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The garden is quadrangular in shape, and each side is four plethra in length. It consists of arched vaults, which are situated, one after another, on checkered, cube-like foundations. The checkered foundations, which are hollowed out, are covered so deep with earth that they admit of the largest of trees, having been constructed of baked brick and asphalt — the foundations themselves and the vaults and the arches. The ascent to the uppermost terrace-roofs is made by a stairway; and alongside these stairs there were screws, through which the water was continually conducted up into the garden from the Euphrates by those appointed for this purpose. For the river, a stadium in width, flows through the middle of the city; and the garden is on the bank of the river."[2]

The Greek Historian Diodorus:

"The Garden was 100 feet (30 m) long by 100 ft wide and built up in tiers so that it resembled a theatre. Vaults had been constructed under the ascending terraces which carried the entire weight of the planted garden; the uppermost vault, which was seventy-five feet high, was the highest part of the garden, which, at this point, was on the same level as the city walls.The roofs of the vaults which supported the garden were constructed of stone beams some sixteen feet long, and over these were laid first a layer of reeds set in thick tar, then two courses of baked brick bonded by cement, and finally a covering of lead to prevent the moisture in the soil penetrating the roof. On top of this roof enough topsoil was heaped to allow the biggest trees to take root. The earth was leveled off and thickly planted with every kind of tree. And since the galleries projected one beyond the other, where they were sunlit, they contained conduits for the water which was raised by pumps in great abundance from the river, though no one outside could see it being done."[3]

Other references

Scriptores Rerum Alexandrii Magni

A 16th-century hand-coloured engraving of the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" by Dutch artist Martin Heemskerck, with the Tower of Babel in the background.
"And then there were the Hanging Gardens. Paracleisos going up to the top is like climbing a mountain. Each terrace rises up from the last like the syrinx, the pipes of pan, which are made of several tubes of unequal length. This gives the appearance of a theater. It was flanked by perfectly constructed walls twenty-six feet thick. The galleries were roofed with stone balconies. Above these there was the first of a bed of reeds with a great quantity of bitumen, then a double layer of baked bricks set in gypsum, then over that a covering of lead so that moisture from the soil heaped above it would not seep through. The earth was deep enough to contain the roots of the many varieties of trees which fascinated the beholder with their great size and their beauty. There was also a passage which had pipes leading up to the highest level and machinery for raising water through which great quantities of water were drawn from the river, with none of the process being visible from the outside."[4]

Great Pyramid of Giza

The Great Pyramid of Giza (also called the Pyramid of Khufu and Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids King in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now Cairo, Egypt, and is the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World that survives substantially intact. It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth dynasty EgyptianKhufu (Cheops in Greek) and constructed over a 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC. The Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years. Originally the Great Pyramid was covered by casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface, and what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories regarding the Great Pyramid's construction techniques. Most accepted construction theories are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. The lowest chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built and was unfinished. The so-called[] Queen's Chamber and King's Chamber are higher up within the pyramid structure. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles.

Great Pyramid of Giza

Building the pyramid

It is believed the pyramid was built as a tomb for Fourth dynasty Egyptian pharaoh Khufu and constructed over a 14[2] to 20 year period concluding around 2560 BC.[3] Khufu's vizier, Hemon, or Hemiunu, is believed by some to be the architect of the Great Pyramid.[4] It is thought that, at construction, the Great Pyramid was originally 280 Egyptian cubits tall, 146.6 meters, (480.97 feet, or about 40 stories) but with erosion and the loss of its pyramidion, its current height is 138.8 m (455 feet). Each base side was 440 royal cubits, 230.5 meters in length, (756.2 feet). A royal cubit measures 0.524 meters.[5] The total mass of the pyramid is estimated at 5.9 million tonnes. The volume, including an internal hillock, is believed to be roughly 2,500,000 cubic meters.[6] Based on these estimates, building this in 20 years would involve installing approximately 800 tonnes of stone every day. The first precision measurements of the pyramid were done by Egyptologist Sir Flinders Petrie in 1880–82 and published as The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh.[7] Almost all reports are based on his measurements. Many of the casing stones and interior chamber blocks of the great pyramid were fit together with extremely high precision. Based on measurements taken on the north eastern casing stones, the mean opening of the joints are only 0.5 millimeters wide (1/50th of an inch).[8]

Great Pyramid of Giza from a 19th century stereopticon card photo

The pyramid remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years,[9] unsurpassed until the 160 meter tall spire of Lincoln Cathedral was completed c. 1300. The accuracy of the pyramid's workmanship is such that the four sides of the base have a mean error of only 58 millimeter in length [10] The base is horizontal and flat to within 15 mm. The sides of the square base are closely aligned to the four cardinal compass points (within 4 minutes of arc)[11] based on true north, not magnetic north[12], and the finished base was squared to a mean corner error of only 12 seconds of arc[13]. The completed design dimensions, as suggested by Petrie's survey and later studies, are estimated to have originally been 280 cubits in height by 440 cubits in length at each of the four sides of its base. These proportions equate to π/2 to an accuracy of better than 0.05% (corresponding to the approximation of π as 22/7). Some Egyptologists consider this to have been the result of deliberate design proportion[14]. Verner wrote, "We can conclude that although the ancient Egyptians could not precisely define the value of π, in practise they used it".[15] Petrie, author of ‘The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh', who was the first accurate surveyor of Giza and the excavator and surveyor of the Pyramid of Meidum, concluded: "but these relations of areas and of circular ratio are so systematic that we should grant that they were in the builders design".[16] Earlier in the chapter he wrote more specifically, that: “We conclude therefore that the approximation of 7 to 22 as the ratio of diameter to circumference was recognised”.[17] These proportions equated to the four outer faces sloping by approximately 51.842º or 51º 50' 35", which would have been understood and expressed by the Ancient Egyptians as a seked slope of 5 1/2 palms [18].


See also: Calculating the weight of megaliths

The Great Pyramid consists of more than 2.3 million limestone blocks. The Egyptians obtained the majority of the limestone blocks from a nearby quarry. The Tufa limestone used for the casing was quarried across the river. The largest granite stones in the pyramid, found in the "King's" chamber, weigh 25 to 80 tonnes and were transported more than 500 miles away from Aswan. Traditionally, ancient Egyptians cut stone blocks by hammering wedges into the stone which were then soaked with water. The wedges expanded, causing the rock to crack. Once they were cut, they were carried by boat either up or down the Nile River to the pyramid. [19]

Casing stones

casing stone

At completion, the Great Pyramid was surfaced by white 'casing stones' – slant-faced, but flat-topped, blocks of highly polished white limestone. These were carefully cut to what is approximately a face slope with a seked of 5 1/2 palms to give the required overall dimensions. Visibly, all that remains is the underlying step-pyramid core structure seen today. In AD 1301, a massive earthquake loosened many of the outer casing stones, which were then carted away by Bahri Sultan An-Nasir Nasir-ad-Din al-Hasan in 1356 in order to build mosques and fortresses in nearby Cairo. The stones can still be seen as parts of these structures to this day. Later explorers reported massive piles of rubble at the base of the pyramids left over from the continuing collapse of the casing stones, which were subsequently cleared away during continuing excavations of the site. Nevertheless, many of the casing stones can be seen to this day in situ around the base of the Great Pyramid, and display the same workmanship and precision as has been reported for centuries. Petrie also found a different orientation in the core and in the casing measuring 193 centimeters ± 25 centimeters. He suggested a redetermination of north was made after the construction of the core, but a mistake was made, and the casing was built with a different orientation.[20] Petrie related the precision of the casing stones as to being "equal to opticians' work of the present day, but on a scale of acres." and "to place such stones in exact contact would be careful work; but to do so with cement in the joints seems almost impossible."[21]

Construction theories

Many alternative, often contradictory, theories have been proposed regarding the Pyramid's construction techniques.[22] Not all even agree that the blocks were quarried, they might conceivably have been cast[citation needed]. However, most accept it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry, being only unable to agree whether they were dragged, lifted or even rolled into place. The Greeks believed that slave labour was used but modern Egyptologists accept that it was built by many tens of thousands of skilled workers. They camped near the pyramids and worked for a salary or as a form of paying taxes until the construction was completed.[citation needed] Their cemeteries were discovered in 1990 by archaeologists Zahi Hawass and Mark Lehner. Verner posited that the labor was organized into a hierarchy, consisting of two gangs of 100,000 men, divided into five zaa or phyle of 20,000 men each, which may have been further divided according to the skills of the workers.[23]

One of the mysteries of the pyramid's construction is how they planned its construction. John Romer suggests that they used the same method that had been used for earlier and later constructions, laying out parts of the plan on the ground at a 1 to 1 scale. He writes that "such a working diagram would also serve to generate the architecture of the pyramid with a precision unmatched by any other means." He devotes a chapter of his book to the physical evidence that there was such a plan.[24]


Diagram of the interior structures of the great pyramid. The inner line indicates the pyramid's present profile, the outer line indicates the original profile.

The Great Pyramid is the only pyramid known to contain both ascending and descending passages. There are three known chambers inside the Great Pyramid. These are arranged centrally, on the vertical axis of the pyramid. From the entrance, an 18 meter corridor leads down and splits in two directions. One way leads to the lowest and unfinished chamber. This chamber is cut into the bedrock upon which the pyramid was built. It is the largest of the three, but totally unfinished, only rough-cut into the rock. The other passage leads to the Grand Gallery (49 m x 3 m x 11 m), where it splits again. One tunnel leads to the Queen's Chamber, a misnomer, while the other winds to intersect with the descending corridor. The Grand Gallery itself features a corbel haloed design and several cut "sockets" spaced at regular intervals along the length of each side of its raised base with a "trench" running along its center length at floor level. What purpose these sockets served is unknown. An antechamber leads from the Grand Gallery to the King's Chamber.[3]


Today, tourists enter the Great Pyramid via a forced tunnel dug by the Caliph Al-Ma'mum and his men around 820 AD. The tunnel continues for approximately 30 meters and eventually meets up with the Descending Passage which at the time was found to have been blocked by a series of massive granite plugs. Unable to remove the blocks, the workmen tunneled around the plugs discovering the Ascending Passage which leads to the Grand Gallery and interior chambers only to find them empty. The original entrance, which was apparently unknown at the time, can be seen today several meters directly above the forced entry and would have also been blocked by the granite plugs.

King's Chamber

At the end of the lengthy series of entrance ways leading into the interior is the structure's main chamber, the King's Chamber. This granite room was originally 10 × 20 × 11.4 cubits, or about 5.235 m × 10.47 m × 5.974 m[25][26], comprising a double 10 × 10 cubit square floor, and a height equal to half the double square's diagonal. Some believed that the height was consistent with the geometric methods for determining the Golden Ratio φ (phi) as the height is approximately phi times the width minus ½, while phi can be derived from other dimensions of the pyramid[27], but evidence from Petrie’s surveys and later conclusions drawn by others shows that it was in fact the circular proportions that were deliberately incorporated into the internal and external designs of the Great Pyramid by its architects and builders, for symbolic reasons[28]. The so called golden ratio phi simply exists in the proportions of the architecture as an inadvertent by-product of the inclusion of the circular proportions. The reason for the inadvertent inclusion is that phi, the golden ratio, has a naturally occurring mathematical relation to the circular ratio pi that is unrelated to the architecture or geometry, and which was unknown to the pyramids builders. Petrie confirmed that the King’s Chamber was a triumph of Egyptian geometry, the ratio of its length to the circuit of the side wall being the same as the ratio of 1 to pi, and that the exterior of the pyramid had been built to the same proportions[28][29][30]

The sarcophagus of the King's Chamber was hollowed out of a single piece of Red Aswan granite and has been found to be too large to fit through the passageway leading to the chamber. Whether the sarcophagus was ever intended to house a body is unknown. It is too short to accommodate a medium height individual without the bending of the knees, a technique not practiced in Egyptian burial, and no lid has ever been found. The King's Chamber contains two small shafts that ascend out of the pyramid. Despite being originally discovered closed off at both ends, these shafts were once thought by Egyptologists to have been used as "ventilation shafts", but this idea was eventually abandoned, leaving them to conclude they were instead used for ceremonial purposes. It is now thought that they were to allow the Pharaoh's spirit to rise up and out to heaven.[31]

The King's Chamber is lined with red granite brought from Aswan 935 km (580 miles) to the south. There are 5 relieving chambers above the kings chamber. The first one is reached through a breach in the wall at the upper end of the Grand Gallery, this was named the Davidson chamber. Howard Vyse suspected there was another chamber above this when he found that he was able to thrust a long reed through a crack in the ceiling. He blasted through to find 4 more relieving chambers. These chambers were named the Wellington, Nelson, Lady Arbuthnot and Cambell's chambers. The kings chamber and the first 4 relieving chambers have roofs made out of granite. Each roof includes 8 or 9 granite slabs weighing 25 to 80 tonnes each. Cambell's chamber has a pented roof made of large limestone slabs.[32][33] Egyptologists believe they were transported on barges down the Nile river.[34]

Queen's Chamber

The Queen's Chamber is the middle and the smallest, measuring approximately 5.74 by 5.23 meters, and 4.57 meters in height. The chamber is lined with fine limestone blocks and the pented roof is made of large limestone slabs.[35] Its eastern wall has a large angular doorway or niche. Egyptologist Mark Lehner believes that the Queen's chamber was intended as a serdab, a structure found in several other Egyptian pyramids, and that the niche would have contained a statue of the interred. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the statue would serve as a "back up" vessel for the Ka of the Pharaoh, should the original mummified body be destroyed. The true purpose of the chamber, however, remains uncertain.[31] The Queens Chamber has a pair of shafts similar to those in the King's Chamber, which were explored using a robot, Upuaut 2, created by the German engineer Rudolf Gantenbrink. In 1992, Upuaut 2 discovered that these shafts were blocked by limestone "doors" with two eroded copper handles. The National Geographic Society filmed the drilling of a small hole in the southern door, only to find another larger door behind it.[36] The northern passage, which was harder to navigate due to twists and turns, was also found to be blocked by a door.[37]

Unfinished chamber

The "unfinished chamber" lies 27.5 meters below ground level and is rough-hewn, lacking the precision of the other chambers. Egyptologists suggest the chamber was intended to be the original burial chamber, but that King Khufu later changed his mind and wanted it to be higher up in the pyramid.[38] Egyptologist Bob Brier believes it was an insurance policy in case Khufu died early. When he was still alive and healthy after about 5 years of construction, the second (Queen's) chamber was begun. Sometime around the fifteenth year this chamber was also abandoned unfinished and the last or King's Chamber was built high up in the center of the pyramid.[39]

Pyramid complex

Map of Giza pyramid complex

The Great Pyramid of Giza is the main part of a complex setting of buildings that included two mortuary temples in honor of Khufu (one close to the pyramid and one near the Nile), three smaller pyramids for Khufu's wives, an even smaller "satellite" pyramid, a raised causeway connecting the two temples, and small mastaba tombs surrounding the pyramid for nobles. One of the small pyramids contains the tomb of queen Hetepheres (discovered in 1925), sister and wife of Sneferu and the mother of Khufu. There was a town for the workers of Giza, which included a cemetery, bakeries, a beer factory and a copper smelting complex. A few hundred meters south-west of the Great Pyramid lies the slightly smaller Pyramid of Khafre, one of Khufu's successors who is also commonly considered the builder of the Great Sphinx, and a few hundred meters further south-west is the Pyramid of Menkaure, Khafre's successor, which is about half as tall. In May 1954, 41 blocking stones were uncovered close to the south side of the Great Pyramid. They covered a 30.8 meter long rock-cut pit that contained the remains of a 43 meter long ship of cedar wood. In antiquity, it had been dismantled into 650 parts comprising 1224 pieces. This funeral boat of Khufu has been reconstructed and is now housed in a museum on the site of its discovery. A second boat pit was later discovered nearby.[40]