Wednesday, October 18, 2006
The New 7 Wonders of the World
The basic list of the Seven Wonders of the World (which we all know too well) was drawn up in 140 BC by a Greek writer and poet Antipator of Sidon.
* The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
* The Colossus of Rhodes
* The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
* The Lighthouse at Alexandria
* The Statue of Zeus
* The Temple of Artemis
* The Pyramids of Egypt
However, apart from the Pyramids, the seven ancient wonders of the world no longer exist. It is by this reason that Bernard Weber, a Swiss film-maker and explorer is hosting an effort to choose the seven modern wonders by democratic vote. The results of the global campaign will be announced on July 7, 2007, in Lisbon. An original list of nearly 200 sites were nominated by the public (about 20 million votes) and has now been narrowed to 21 by the organizers and experts.
Among 21 locations shortlisted for the worldwide vote, my fave picks are the following...
Angkor (12th century) Cambodia
Angkor is the most important monument of the south-east Asian Khmer Empire and the world's largest sacred temple. Built during the reign of King Suryavaman, at the beginning of the 12th century, Angkor is noted for its intricate ornamentation and striking beauty. With its water moats, concentric walls and magnificent temple mountain in the center, Angkor Wat symbolizes the Hindu cosmos, with its oceans at the periphery and the Meru mountain at the center of its universe.
The Great Wall of China (220 B.C and 1368 - 1644 A.D.) China
The Great Wall of China was built to link existing fortifications into a united defense system and better keep invading Mongol tribes out of China. It is the largest man-made monument ever to have been built and is the only one visible from space. Many thousands of people must have given their lives to build this colossal construction.
The Roman Colosseum (70 - 82 A.D.) Rome, Italy
This great amphitheater in the centre of Rome was built to give favors to successful legionnaires and to celebrate the glory of the Roman Empire. Its design concept still stands to this very day, and virtually every modern sports stadium some 2,000 years later still bears the irresistible imprint of the Colosseum's original design. Today, through films and history books, we are even more aware of the cruel fights and games that took place in this arena, all for the joy of the spectators.
Statues of Easter Island (10th - 16th Century) Easter Island, Chile
Discovered on Easter Sunday, 1722 by Dutch explorer Jakob Roggeveen, this collection of 25 meter-high stone sculptures still puzzles historians and archaeologists as to its origins. It is believed that a society of Polynesian origin settled here in the 4th century and established a unique tradition of monumental sculpture. Between the 10th and 16th centuries, they erected the enormous stone figures, known as the Moai, which have long fascinated the entire world and endowed this island with a mythical atmosphere.
Machu Picchu (1460-1470), Peru
In the 15th century, the Incan Emperor Pachacutec built a city in the clouds on the mountain known as Machu Picchu ("old mountain"). This extraordinary settlement lies halfway up the Andes Plateau, deep in the Amazon jungle and above the Urubamba River. It was probably abandoned by the Incas because of a smallpox outbreak and, after the Spanish defeated the Incan Empire, the city remained 'lost' for over three centuries. It was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Petra (9 B.C. - 40 A.D.), Jordan
On the edge of the Arabian Desert, Petra was the glittering capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV (9 B.C. to 40 A.D.). Masters of water technology, the Nabataeans provided their city with great tunnel constructions and water chambers. A theater, modelled on Greek-Roman prototypes, had space for an audience of 4,000. Today, the Palace Tombs of Petra, with the 42-meter-high Hellenistic temple facade on the El-Deir Monastery, are impressive examples of Middle Eastern culture.
Timbuktu (12th century) Mali
In the 12th century, Timbuktu was at the crossroads of the four most important caravan paths supplying the Arab world, which then spanned from the Middle East all the way to Spain. The accumulation of wealth made it one of the wealthiest places on earth at the time. This allowed one of the first universities in the history of humankind to be established - the celebrated Islamic university called the Koranic Sankore, where 20,000 students studied law, medicine, rhetoric, etc. Today, it remains with us as a powerful myth and, in this way, resembles another Ancient Wonder, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Christ Redeemer, Sydney Opera, Statue of Liberty, and Eiffel Tower are definitely off my list. While they may be modern and an awe-inspiring sight, but that's just what they are, simply modern buildings with a bit of artistic flair.