The list(s) of the Seven Wonders has been written and re-written in days past. The ancient Greeks seemed to enjoy throwing these things together every now and then, celebrating their culture and the mindbenders they'd seen the sun set on. Philon of Byzantium and Antipater of Sidon were two of the more well-known listers and most lists agreed upon the first six wonders on this particular list. The seventh spot was held, at assorted times by assorted people, by the Walls of the City of Babylon or the Palace of Cyrus, king of Persia. Circa 6th century A.D. "they" settled on The Lighthouse of Alexandria.

Anyhoo, the list is a bit Greek-centric, as would be expected from a bunch of primitives, mainly since they didn't have the luxury of net surfing or satellite realtime you won't find the Great Wall of China on this list nor Stonehenge nor the Chelsea Hotel and, nor, not even the great Empire State Building.

Ladies and gentlemen, without furthur ado...I give you...

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

Seven Wonders of Antiquity, according to the Civilopedia in Sid Meier's Civilization:

The Colossus of Rhodes

    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 200
    Requires: Bronze Working
    Made Obsolete by: Electricity
    Function: One additional arrow of trade is created in every City Map square which already generates an arrow.
    Notes: Wonders don't come cheaper that this. Combine the Colossus and a representative government and one can watch the coins pour into the coffers. Electricity is far enough away to make the Colossus a good investment if built early on.
The Great Library
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 300
    Requires: Literacy
    Made Obsolete by: University
    Function: Owner receives any technology that any two other civilizations have acquired.
    Notes: The higher the difficulty level one plays at and the more isolated one's starting position, the greater the need for the Library becomes. If safely ahead in the technology race, one can skip this wonder.
The Great Wall
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 300
    Requires: Masonry
    Made Obsolete by: Gunpowder
    Function: In a parley situation, other leaders always offer a peace treaty.
    Notes: The more enemies on one's borders (especially the Zulus and the Mongols!), the more useful the Great Wall becomes. Gunpowder often comes quickly however, making its usefulness short lived.
The Hanging Gardens
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 300
    Requires: Pottery
    Made Obsolete by: Invention
    Function: One happy citizen in all of the owner's cities.
    Notes: The greater the difficulty level, the greater the need for the Gardens. Invention comes quickly though at higher levels, making the Gardens one of the first to sink into obsolescence.
The Lighthouse
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 200
    Requires: Map Making
    Made Obsolete by: Magnetism
    Function: All ships given 1 extra movement point per turn.
    Notes: The Lighthouse is one of the two cheapest wonders and expires rather painlessly with Magnetism and its Frigates. It can greatly aid the player initially stuck on a small island.
The Oracle
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 300
    Requires: Mysticism
    Made Obsolete by: Religion
    Function: Doubles the effect of Temple improvements.
    Notes: One of the better ancient wonders, the Oracle can often avert a player's need for costly Colosseums until Cathedrals can be built. Consequently, the Oracle is a good sacrifice.
The Pyramids
    Epoch: Antiquity
    Cost: 300
    Requires: Masonry
    Made Obsolete by: Communism
    Function: The owner may change governments without passing through Anarchy and may choose from any of the 5 government types, even if yet undiscovered.
    Notes: The greatest ancient wonder, the Pyramids have the longest life and much to offer. Being able to switch between wartime and peacetime governments with the ease of drawing and holstering a pistol is an incredible advantage.

The Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages:

Leonard Cottrell's Wonders of Antiquity (London: 1964) is a great introduction to the subject - no easy feat for one book.1 Historians and archeologists, like most other disciplines, increasingly tend to specialize in ever-narrower fields of study. As a result, wide-scope surveys like Cottrell's are not taken all that seriously anymore. Monumentalism (architectural or historical) is considered passe in academe. Apparently, a similar smug derision was exhibited by ancient scholars themselves when reflecting upon the Wonders:
Classical writers such as Pliny regarded all this effort (the Great Pyramids) as a ponderous exercise in futility, and some modern writers, especially the Marxist school, take the same view. It is a shallow and ignorant view, typical of the materialist age in which we live. It rests on the fallacy that the people of that remote period, nearly five thousand years ago, were basically like ourselves. We cannot imagine that thousands of workmen could be induced to build such huge and apparently useless structures unless they were slaves driven by a ruthless tyrant. (24-25)
Cottrell, in this passage, builds to a careful annihilation of the thesis that slave labour was used to construct the Great Pyramid at Giza. He points out, first of all, slave vs. wage labour are modern distinctions with little significance in a pre-monetary, theocratic society. His second point is that most tales of the Pharaohs' cruel and callous construction projects can be traced back to one source: Herodotus. This is problematic given the Greek historian lived about as close to Cheops' time of pyramid-building as we do to Herodotus' ancient Athens. There was likely no small distortion given "the Greek horror of tyranny." (27)

After elaborate discussions of pyramid engineering and mathematics, the book sails on to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, or the Pharos. Alexander the Great arrives in Egypt roughly 2300 years after the construction of the Great Pyramid, and although he selects a wonderful site for the city which will bear his name, he never sees the completion of the Pharos (or indeed of the city). Construction of Alexandria itself begins on a sandy beach at a tiny fishing village, Rhakotis, on the western branch of the Nile Delta. Off the coast is a small island, where the Lighthouse will eventually loom. Built by architect Sostratus of Cnidus circa 240 BC, the Pharos was over 400 ft. high, with hundreds of windows and nearly 300 rooms. Its magnified firelight was said to be visible as far as 300 miles out to sea, and the lighthouse stood reportedly until the 14th c. (though by then it had been converted into a mosque) when an earthquake sent the entire structure into the harbour. 2 (32-33)

Cottrell then moves on to the other wonders, lingering longer at the Colossus of Rhodes 3 than the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, but takes the unique license of adding several other monuments which he feels would have been included in the enumeration of Philo, including the Palace of Minos, the Theban necropolis at Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and the Dome of the Rock. Each monument Cottrell surveys in its entirety, from construction to destruction.
1 British author and archaeologist - also a commentator, writer, and producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation until 1960, when he retired to writing. He wrote over twenty books on history, archeology and ancient languages, including : Bull of Minos (1958), Realms of Gold (1963), Egypt (1965), and Lost Civilizations (1974).

2 After the seizure of Alexandria, some of the more 'colorful' Middle Eastern historians wrote the polished lens at the top of the lighthouse was so powerful it could set ships approaching the harbour ablaze with its beam, or could be used as a telescope to check the activities of Byzantines going about their daily business on the streets of Constantinople.

3 In particular, the story of the siege of Rhodes by the Macedonian forces under Demetrius is given considerable ink. The island-city was only rescued from ruin at the last second by the navies of Ptolemy's Alexandria, and in his honor the bronze statue of the sun-god, Helios, was constructed. Cottrell also mentions tradition has it much of the material for the statues frame was supplied by the re-used pieces of the fleeing invaders' siege machines.

Further Reading:

Ashley, Michael. The seven wonders of the world. -- London : Fontana, 1980.
Banks, Edgar James, 1866- The seven wonders of the ancient world. -- New York : G.P. Putnam, c1916.
Clayton, Peter A. The seven wonders of the ancient world. -- New York : Routledge, 1988.
McLeish, Kenneth. The Seven Wonders of the World . -- New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
Romer, John. The Seven Wonders of the World : a history of the modern imagination. London : Michael O'Mara Books, 1995.

If you wish to remember the identies of the Seven Wonders, you may find this mnemonic helpful.


Like this:

If you picture the first six of this list tumbling into a great (and strangely spelled) chasm, leaving only the Pyramid, you can further associate that this great Egyptian monument is the only of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World which is left to us.

Benne, Bart, "Waspleg and Other Mnemonics" (Taylor, Dallas, 1988).

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