The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, at the British Museum, London

In this episode, we’ll be visiting the remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, at the British Museum, London. Welcome to Art, Culture & Books with me, Anthony King.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, also known as the Tomb of Mausolus, stood as a monumental tomb constructed in Halicarnassus (present-day Bodrum, Turkey) during the period between 353 and 350 BC. It served as the final resting place for Mausolus, the ruler of Caria (377–353 BCE), and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria of the Achaemenid Empire, the First Persian Empire. This empire, centred in modern-day Iran, held the distinction of being the world’s largest at the time, encompassing a vast expanse of 5.5 million square kilometres (2.1 million square miles). Its reach extended from the Balkans and Egypt in the west to West Asia, Central Asia, and parts of South Asia in the east.

The architectural blueprint for the Mausoleum was crafted by Greek architects, and its elevated tomb structure drew inspiration from the tombs of Lycia, a region that Mausolus had conquered around 360 BC, incorporating elements seen in structures like the Nereid Monument, featured earlier in this series.

Rising to an approximate height of 45 meters (148 feet), the Mausoleum boasted sculptural reliefs on all four sides, totalling 400 free-standing sculptures. Over time, the structural integrity of the Mausoleum succumbed to successive earthquakes spanning the 12th to the 15th century. Despite being the last surviving wonder of the six originally erected, it ultimately met its demise. Interestingly, the term “mausoleum” has since evolved into a generic descriptor for an above-ground tomb.

By Anthony King (c)