Artemisia built the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus after her husband Mausolus died. For 24 years, Mausolus and Artemisia ruled over Halicarnassus and the surrounding region. When Mausolus died in 353 BC, Artemisia was said to have been so devastated that she commissioned the world’s most talented artists to build the most magnificent tomb in the world. The completed tomb stood 147 feet tall on a hill overlooking Halicarnassus.
The city of Halicarnassus, ruled by Mausolus and Artemisia, is now known as Bodrum, Turkey.
The term mausoleum is derived from the name Mausolus. From that point forward, the term mausoleum was used to refer to above-ground tombs.
Artemisia, Mausolus’ wife, was also his sister. It was common for rulers to marry their sisters back then.
Artemisia commissioned the tomb to be built by famous Greek artists. The tomb’s shape was designed by two Greek architects, Pytheos and Satyros. There were also a number of artists who contributed to the tomb’s cultural influences, which included Greek, Lycian, and Egyptian influences.
Artemisia passed away two years after Mausolus, before the tomb was finished.
Pytheos created the sculpture at the top of the tomb. The carving depicted Mausolus and Artemisia riding in a chariot drawn by four massive horses.
Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros, Timotheus, and Leochares were among the other Greek artists who worked on the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.
The mausoleum was mostly made of marble. It was encircled by a courtyard.
A staircase was constructed to lead up to the platform where the mausoleum stood. The staircase was flanked by stone lions.
On the walls of the mausoleum, there were scenes of Greek and Amazon warriors and battles in scriptural relief (similar to the images on coins – slightly raised).
The Mausoleum was left untouched when Alexander the Great took over the city in 334 BC.
The Mausoleum was left undamaged when pirates attacked the city in 58 and 62 BC.
Earthquakes in the 13th century toppled the Mausoleum’s columns, destroying the stone chariot.
Crusaders conquered the city in the 13th century. They used many parts of the Mausoleum to build their structures. When you visit Halicarnassus Castle, you can still see pieces of the tomb that were used to strengthen the castle walls.
By 1401 AD, all that remained was the tomb’s base.
The mausoleum’s ruins were discovered in the 1800s by an archaeologist named Charles Newton. He discovered Mausolus and Artemisia statues, as well as a piece of the chariot wheel. They can be seen in the British Museum’s Mausoleum Room.
Crusaders raided the mausoleum around 1522, stealing any treasures or the bodies of Mausolus and Artemisia.
Some believe that Mausolus and Artemisia were cremated and buried in urns in the Halicarnassus Mausoleum. Some speculate that they were buried in coffins. There is no evidence to support either theory.
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus was chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon, who was in charge of compiling a list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. His reasoning was that he saw it as an aesthetic triumph.