Tomb of Mausolus[a] (Ancient Greek:
Μαυσωλεῖον τῆς Ἁλικαρνασσοῦ; Turkish:
Halikarnas Mozolesi) was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at
Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap in the
Persian Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. The
structure was designed by the Greek architects
Satyros and Pythius of
Mausoleum was approximately 45 m (148 ft) in height, and
the four sides were adorned with sculptural reliefs, each created by
one of four Greek sculptors—Leochares, Bryaxis,
Timotheus. The finished structure of the mausoleum was considered
to be such an aesthetic triumph that
Antipater of Sidon identified it
as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed by
successive earthquakes from the 12th to the 15th century, the
last surviving of the six destroyed wonders.
The word mausoleum has now come to be used generically for an
3 Construction of the Mausoleum
5 Dimensions and statues
6 Later history of the Mausoleum
7 Discovery and excavation
8 Influence on modern architecture
11 Further reading
12 External links
In the 4th century BC,
Halicarnassus was the capital of a small
regional kingdom within the
Achaemenid Empire on the western coast of
Asia Minor. In 377 BC, the nominal 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
(adoptive 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 24 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, one as safe from capture as
it was magnificent to be seen. He chose the city of Halicarnassus.
Mausolus spent huge amounts of tax money to embellish
the city. They commissioned statues, temples and buildings of gleaming
marble. In 353 BC,
Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia to rule
alone. As the Persian satrap, and as the Hecatomnid dynast, Mausolus
had planned for himself an elaborate tomb. When he died the project
was continued by his siblings. The tomb became so famous that
Mausolus's name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word
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, and 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."
Construction of the Mausoleum
It is likely that Mausolos started to plan the tomb before his death,
as part of the building works in Halicarnassus, and that when he died
Artemisia continued the building project. 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
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 goddesses. 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 m (148 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 pair of columns
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.
Timeline and map of the
Halicarnassus and the other
Wonders of the Ancient World
This lion is among the few free-standing sculptures from the Mausoleum
at the British Museum.
Colossal statue of a man from the north side of the
Modern historians have pointed out that two years would not be enough
time to decorate and build such an extravagant building. Therefore, it
is believed that construction was begun by
Mausolus before his death
or continued by the next leaders. The
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
resembled a temple and the only way to tell the difference was its
slightly higher outer walls. The
Mausoleum was in the Greek-dominated
area of Halicarnassus, which in 353 was controlled by the Achaemenid
Empire. According to the Roman architect Vitruvius, it was built by
Satyros and Pytheus who wrote a treatise about it; this treatise is
now lost. Pausanias adds that the Romans considered the Mausoleum
one of the great wonders of the world and it was for that reason that
they called all their magnificent tombs mausolea, after it.
It is unknown exactly when and how the
Mausoleum came to ruin:
Eustathius, writing in the 12th century on his commentary of the Iliad
says "it was and is a wonder". Because of this, Fergusson concluded
that the building was ruined, probably by an earthquake, between this
period and 1402, when the
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem arrived and
recorded that it was in ruins. However, Luttrell notes that at
that time the local Greek and Turks had no name for – or legends to
account for – the colossal ruins, suggesting a destruction at a much
Many of the stones from the ruins were used by the knights to fortify
their castle at Bodrum; they also recovered bas-reliefs with which
they decorated the new building. Much of the marble was burned into
lime. In 1846 Lord Stratford de Redcliffe obtained permission to
remove these reliefs from the Bodrum.
At the original site, all that remained by the 19th century were the
foundations and some broken sculptures. This site was originally
indicated by Professor Donaldson and was discovered definitively by
Charles Newton, after which an expedition was sent by the British
government. The expedition lasted three years and ended in the
sending of the remaining marbles. At some point before or after
this, grave robbers broke into and destroyed the underground burial
chamber, but in 1972 there was still enough of it remaining to
determine a layout of the chambers when they were excavated.
This monument was ranked the seventh wonder of the world by the
ancients, not because of its size or strength but because of the
beauty of its design and how it was decorated with sculpture or
ornaments. The mausoleum was Halicarnassus' principal
architectural monument, standing in a dominant position on rising
ground above the harbor.
Dimensions and statues
A fragmentary horse from a colossal four-horse chariot group which
topped the podium of the
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
Much of the information we have gathered about the
Mausoleum and its
structure has come from the Roman polymath Pliny the Elder. He wrote
some basic facts about the architecture and some dimensions. The
building was rectangular, not square, surrounded by a colonnade of
thirty-six columns. There was a pyramidal superstructure receding in
twenty four steps to the summit. On top there were 4 horse chariots of
marble. The building was accented with both sculptural friezes and
free standing figures. "The free standing figures were arranged on 5
or 6 different levels." We are now able to justify that Pliny’s
knowledge came from a work written by the architect. It is clear that
Pliny did not grasp the design of the mausoleum fully which creates
problems in recreating the structure. He does state many facts which
help the reader recreate pieces of the puzzle. Other writings by
Pausanias, Strabo, and
Vitruvius also help us to gather more
information about the Mausoleum.
According to Pliny, the mausoleum was 19 metres (63 ft) north and
south, shorter on other fronts, 125 metres (411 ft) perimeter,
and 25 cubits (11.4 metres or 37.5 feet) in height. It was
surrounded by 36 columns. They called this part the pteron. Above the
pteron there was a pyramid on top with 24 steps and equal in height to
the lower part. The height of the building was 43 metres
(140 ft). The only other author that gives the dimensions of
Mausoleum is Hyginus a grammarian in the time of Augustus. He
describes the monument as built with shining stones, 24 metres
(80 ft) high and 410 metres (1,340 ft) in circumference. He
likely meant cubits which would match Pliny’s dimensions exactly but
this text is largely considered corrupt and is of little
importance. We learn from
Vitruvius that Satyrus and Phytheus
wrote a description of their work which Pliny likely read. Pliny
likely wrote down these dimensions without thinking about the form of
A number of statues were found slightly larger than life size, either
1.5 metres (5 ft). or 1.60 metres (5.25 ft). in length;
these were 20 lion statues. Another important find was the depth on
the rock on which the building stood. This rock was excavated to 2.4
or 2.7 metres (8 or 9 ft) deep over an area 33 by 39 metres (107
by 127 ft). The sculptures on the north were created by
Scopas, the ones on the east Bryaxis, on the south Timotheus and on
the west Leochares. The
Mausoleum was adorned with many great and
beautiful sculptures. Some of these sculptures have been lost or only
fragments have been found. Several of the statues' original placements
are only known through historical accounts. The great figures of
Mausolus and Artemisia stood in the chariot at the top of the pyramid.
The detached equestrian groups are placed at the corners of the sub
podium. The semi-colossal female heads they may have belonged to
the acroteria of the two gables which may have represented the six
Carian towns incorporated in Halicarnassus. Work still continues
today as groups continue to excavate and research the mausoleum’s
Later history of the Mausoleum
Mausoleum overlooked the city of
Halicarnassus for many years. It
was untouched when the city fell to
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great 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
The Castle from the south-east
The Knights of St John of Rhodes invaded the region and built Bodrum
Castle (Castle of Saint Peter). When they decided to fortify it in
1494, they used the stones of the Mausoleum. This is also about when
"imaginative reconstructions" of the
Mausoleum began to appear. 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.
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the base of
the knights on the island of Rhodes, who then relocated first briefly
to Sicily and later permanently to Malta, leaving the Castle and
Bodrum to the Ottoman Empire.
During the fortification work, 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 small museum building next to the site of the
Mausoleum tells the 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 was 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.
Discovery and excavation
An actress performs a play in front of 2 statues from the
Halicarnassus. Room 21, the British Museum, London
In the 19th century a British consul obtained several of the statues
Bodrum Castle; these now reside in the British Museum. In 1852
British Museum sent the archaeologist
Charles Thomas Newton
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 2 m
(6 ft 7 in) in diameter, which came from the sculpture on
the Mausoleum's roof. Finally, he found the statues of
Artemisia that had stood at the pinnacle of the building. In October
1857 Newton carried blocks of marble from this site by the
HMS Supply and landed them in Malta. These blocks were 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 view, submerged in Dockyard Creek in the Grand
From 1966 to 1977, the
Mausoleum was thoroughly researched by Prof.
Kristian Jeppesen of Aarhus University, Denmark. He has produced a
six-volume monograph, 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
Mausoleum holds a special place in history, as it was not
dedicated to the gods of Ancient Greece.
Today, the massive castle of the
Knights Hospitaller (Knights of St.
John) still stands in Bodrum, and the polished stone and marble blocks
Mausoleum can be spotted built into the walls of the structure.
At the site of the Mausoleum, only the foundation remains, and a small
museum. Some of the surviving sculptures at the
British Museum include
fragments of statues and many slabs of the frieze showing the battle
between the Greeks and the Amazons. There the images of
his queen watch over the few broken remains of the beautiful tomb she
built for him.
Reconstruction of the
Amazonomachy can be seen in the left
British Museum Room 21
Statue usually identified as Artemisia; Reconstruction of the
Amazonomachy can be seen in the left Background-The British Museum
Slab from the
Amazonomachy believed to show Herculeas grabbing the
Hair of the Amazon Queen Hippolyta
Influence on modern architecture
Modern buildings whose designs were based upon or influenced by
interpretations of the design of the
Mausolus include the
Civil Courts Building
Civil Courts Building in St. Louis; the
National Newark Building
National Newark Building in
Newark, New Jersey; Grant's
26 Broadway in New York City; Los
Angeles City Hall; the
Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne, Australia;
the spire of
St. George's Church, Bloomsbury
St. George's Church, Bloomsbury in London; the Indiana
Memorial (and in turn Salesforce Tower) in Indianapolis,
the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction's
House of the Temple
House of the Temple in Washington D.C., and the
Soldiers and Sailors
Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh.
^ "Mausoleion" meant "[building] dedicated to Mausolus"; thus,
Mausolus is a tautology.
^ Kostof, Spiro (1985). A History of Architecture. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-19-503473-2.
^ Gloag, John (1969) . Guide to Western Architecture (Revised
ed.). The Hamlyn Publishing Group. p. 362.
^ Smith, William (1870). "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities,
page 744". Retrieved 2006-09-21.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus". Archived from the original on 21
February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus". Retrieved 5 February 2014.
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus". Retrieved 5 February 2014.
^ a b c d Colvin, Howard (1991). "Architecture and the after-life."
Yale University, pp 30–31. New Haven Press.
^ a b Fergusson, p10.
^ A. Luttrell, The later history of the Maussolleion and its
utilization in the Hospitaller castle at Bodrum. In Kristian Jeppesen,
et al. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos. 1986.
^ Fergusson, p6.
^ Fergusson, p7.
^ Fergusson, p5.
^ "Architecture and the after-life." Yale University, pp3 0–31.
New Haven Press.
^ a b c d e Fergusson.
^ a b Fergusson, p9.
^ "[A guide to the] mausoleum room." (1886). the trustees, London
^ "The Maussolleion". SDU (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-12-08.
^ Busuttil, Cynthia (26 July 2009). "Dock 1 made from ancient ruins?".
Times of Malta. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
^ "Indiana War
Memorial Exterior". State of Indiana. Archived from the
original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
^ "IWM: Indiana War
Memorial Museum". in.gov.
^ Christine H. O'Toole (September 20, 2009). "The Long Weekend:
Pittsburgh, Three Ways". Washington Post.
Fergusson, James (1862). "The
Halicarnassus restored in
conformity with the recently discovered remains." J. Murray, London
Library resources about
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Brandt, J. Rasmus, Erika Hagelberg, Gro Bjørnstad, and Sven Ahrens.
2017. Life and Death In Asia Minor In Hellenistic, Roman, and
Byzantine Times: Studies In Archaeology and Bioarchaeology.
Philadelphia: Oxbow Books.
Cook, B. F., Bernard Ashmole, and Donald Emrys Strong. 2005. Relief
Sculpture of the
Mausoleum At Halicarnassus. Oxford: Oxford University
Dmitriev, Sviatoslav. 2005. City Government In Hellenistic and Roman
Asia Minor. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Jeppeson, Kristian. 2002. The Maussolleion at Halikarnassos: Reports
of the Danish archaeological expedition to Bodrum: The superstructure,
a comparative analysis of the architectural, sculptural, and literary
evidence. Vol. 5. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus Univ. Press.
Steele, James, and Ersin Alok. 1992. Hellenistic Architecture In Asia
Minor. London: Academy Editions.
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