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Mausoleum at Halicarnassus


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One of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was the tomb of the satrap Mausolus of Caria. Begun shortly after 367, when Mausolus refounded Halicarnassus, it was finished after his wife Artemisia died in 351, and is perhaps best interpreted as his hero‐shrine (see hero‐cult) as city‐founder. Its architect was Pythius of Priene; Vitruvius records that he and Mausolus' court sculptor wrote a book on the building, and he and Pliny the Elder note that four other sculptors, including Scopas, joined them. Pliny also outlines the building's form, reports that Scopas and his colleagues each took one side of it, and adds that Pythius made the chariot‐group that crowned it. It stood until the 15th cent., when the Knights of Rhodes quarried it for their castle.

Excavation has supplemented and corrected the ancient accounts. The building consisted of a high podium, a colonnade of 36 Ionic columns, and a truncated pyramid of 24 steps. With the crowning chariot‐group, it reached a total height of 42.7 m. (140 ft.). The tomb‐chamber was encased in the podium, and sacrificial remains suggest the existence of a hero‐cult. The podium's steps carried quantities of freestanding sculpture (hunts, battles, audience scenes, sacrifices, and portraits), and was crowned by an Amazon frieze; portraits stood between the columns; coffer‐reliefs embellished the peristyle's ceiling; lions ringed the cornice; and the base for the chariot carried a Centaur frieze.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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