The Mausoleum of Maussollos, or Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was a tomb built between 353-350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey), for Mausolus a provincial king in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia, his wife and sister.
It was designed by the Greek architects Satyrus and Pythius.
The structure was approximately 45-metres (135 feet) in height, and each of the four sides was adorned by a freize created by one of four famous Greek sculptors.
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 World.The word mausoleum has since come to be used generically for any grand tomb, though "Mausol-eum" originally meant "in honor of Mausol".
Life of Maussollos and Artemisia
In 377 BC, Halicarnassus was capital of a small kingdom along the Mediterranean coast of Anatolia. It was in that year the ruler of this land, Hecatomnus of Mylasa, died and left control of the kingdom to his son, Mausolus. Hecatomnus, a local satrap to the Persians, had been ambitious and had taken control of several of the neighboring cities and districts.
Next to Mausolus and Artemisia he had several other sons and daughters: Ada (adopted mother of Alexander the Great), Idrieus, and Pixodarus. Mausolus in his time, extended the territory even further so that it finally included most of southwestern Asia Minor.
Maussollos, with his queen and sister Artemisia, ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding territory for 24 years. Maussollos, though he was 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.
Maussollos decided to build a new capital, a city as hard to capture as it was magnificent to look at. He chose the town Halicarnassus. If Mausolus' ships blocked a small channel, they could keep all enemy warships out. He started making Halicarnassus a fit capital for a warrior prince. His workmen deepened the city's harbor and used the dredged up sand to make protecting arms in front of the channel.
On land, they laid out paved squares, streets, and houses for ordinary citizens, and on one side of the harbor they built a massive fortress-palace for Mausolus, positioned so that there were clear views out to sea and inland to the hills--the places that enemies might attack. The workmen built walls and watch towers on the land ward side and put up a Greek-style theater and a temple to Ares, the Greek god of war.
Mausolus Artemisia spent their huge amount of tax money on beautifying the city. They bought statues, temples, and buildings of gleaming marble. In the center of the city Mausolus planned to place a resting place for his body after he was dead. It would be a tomb that would forever show how rich he and his queen were.
In 353 BC Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia broken-hearted. (It was the custom in Caria for rulers to marry their own sisters. One reason for these marriages might have been that it kept the power and wealth in the family.) As a tribute to him, she decided to build him the most splendid tomb in the known world. It became a structure so famous that Mausolus' name is now associated with all stately tombs through our modern word mausoleum.
The building 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, an island in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Asia Minor, had been conquered by Mausolus.
When the Rhodians heard of his death they rebelled and sent a fleet of ships to capture the city of Halicarnassus. Knowing that the Rhodian fleet was on the way, Artemisa 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.
Artemisa 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 ritual sacrifice the bodies of a large number of dead animals were placed on the stairs leading to the tomb, then the stairs were filled with stone and rubble, sealing off the access.
According to the historian Pliny, the craftsmen decided to stay and finish the work after their patron died "considering that it was at once a memorial of their own fame and of the sculptor's art."
The Construction of the Mausoleum
Artemisia decided that no expense was to be spared in the building of the tomb. She sent messengers to Greece to find the most talented artists of the time. This included Scopas, the man who had supervised the rebuilding of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. Other famous sculptors such as Bryaxis, Leochares and Timotheus joined him 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 itself sat. A staircase, flanked by stone lions, led to the top of this platform. Along the outer wall of this were many statues depicting gods and goddess. At each corner stone warriors, mounted on horseback, guarded the tomb.
At the center of the platform was the tomb itself. Made mostly of marble, the structure rose as a square, tapering block to about one-third of the Mausoleum's 45-metre (135-foot) height. This section was covered with relief sculpture showing action scenes from Greek myth/history. One part showed the battle of the Centaurs with the Lapiths. Another depicted Greeks in combat with the Amazons, a race of warrior women.
On top of this section of the tomb thirty-six slim columns, nine per side, rose for another third of the height. Standing in between each column was another statue. Behind the columns was a solid block that carried the weight of the tomb's massive roof. The roof, which comprised most of the final third of the height, was in the form of a stepped pyramid. Perched on top was a quadriga: four massive horses pulling a chariot in which images of Mausolus and Artemisia rode.
The Mausoleum overlooked the city of Halicarnassus for many centuries. It was untouched when the city fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BC and still undamaged after attacks by pirates in 62 and 58 BC. It stood above the city ruins for some 16 centuries. Then a series of earthquakes shattered the columns and sent the stone chariot crashing to the ground.