Saturday, June 18, 2011

Etymology of Mausoleum

In ancient times there was a little kingdom called Caria in the Persian Empire on the edge of the growing Greek influence.

Mausolus ruled Caria with his wife Artemisia from 377-353 BC. Mausolus became the official ruler (at the time called a satrap) when his father Tissaphernes died in approximately 395 BC. Mausolus was a fan of Hellenic culture. He moved the capital of Caria to Halicarnassus and began building it in a grand Greek fashion. (Mausolus, n.d.) He built up a fleet of warriors and and conquered several of the surrounding kingdoms. He exacted heavy taxes from his subjects in order to pay for his grand building scheme.

He died in 353 BC. After the ceremony, his widow Artemisia began the construction of a massive tomb for his body in Halicarnassus, the capital coastal city (Google map of the location) now known as Bodrum, Turkey.

Artemisia died two years after her brother-husband. Did I mention that they were siblings? It wasn't uncommon in those times for elite siblings to marry in order to keep wealth and power in the family. During those two years of loneliness, she became renowned for two things: cunningly crushing a rebellion by the previously conquered the Greek island city-state of Rhodes thereby returning them to Caria rule, and her immense grief over the death of Mausolus.

She was so stricken with grief that she was rumored to have mixed some of his ashes with her wine. Also she paid celebrated orators to give speeches in his honor (King, 1901).

When Artemisia died it was said that grief was the cause; she was entombed with her brother-husband.

The tomb was made entirely of white marble and combined Egyptian, Greek, and Persian styles. It was completed in 350 BC (three years after his death and one year after hers). According to authors Woods and Woods, it was truly massive. “It measured 120 by 100 feet at its base and rose to a height of 140 feet. It contained a polished stone burial chamber topped by statues and a pyramid-shaped roof. At the very top of the roof…were statues of King Mausolus and his queen, riding in a chariot pulled by four horses.” (2000)

In the Wikipeda article there is a reference to Pliny the Elder, the historian, who wrote that even though the patron of the tomb (Artemisia, I'm assuming) died before it was completed, the artisans stayed and completed the work. They believed that it was a display of their artistic skills as well as a king's tomb.

There are some arguments as to if it was possible to complete and decorate the tomb in three years. According to the fifth reference (Attributed to Howard Colvin) to the Wikipedia article, some think that it was begun before Mausolus' death (Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, n.d.).

This is a scale model:
Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (Scale Model)

The mausoleum at Halicarnassus stood for approximately 1800 years as one of the seven wonders of the ancient world until it was likely destroyed by an earthquake sometime in the 14th century AD.

If you Google search for Mausolus you will often come across an image of the statue in the British Museum.

However, according to the British Museum (page The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus/Statue), “The statue represents a heroised member of the Hekatomnid dynasty. There is no reason to identify him specifically with Maussollos.”

Also, Maussollos seems to be an alternate spelling of Mausolus - as well as, Halikarnassos for Halicarnassus.

Two bits of knowledge to take away from this:
  • If you construct a 'Wonder of the World' it gets associated with your name. And I guess having your name be synonymous with a giant ornate tomb is better than nothing...
  • There is nothing quite like the love between a brother-husband and sister-wife...

A nice synopsis read by Pierce Brosnan. The video and audio get a little out of sync, but worth watching. But it's better than the no-videos that the History Channel has available online for this subject. And while we're on the subject of the History Channel (please keep their name in mind) the only real information that I found on the mausoleum at Halicarnassus was two paragraphs (attributed to and no videos or photos. No really, look for yourself On the other hand the History Channel does have plenty of content on Ice Road Truckers and Swamp Loggers!! Disappointing, very disappointing. Just as wrong as wrestling on the SyFy Channel.

Any way, watch the video, learn something, and enjoy real history.


British Museum - The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus/Statue - Retrieved from: 

King, W. C., (1901) Woman: Her Position, Influence, and Achievement Throughout the Civilized World. Her Biography. Her History. The King-Richardson Co., San Jose. Chicago. Indianapolis. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia (n.d.) Mausolus. Retrieved from:

Wikipedia (n.d.) Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Retrieved from:

Woods, M. & Woods, M. B., (2000) Ancient Construction: From Tents to Towers. p. 31. Retrieved from Google Books:

Additional Resources:

A detailed description of what is known about the appearance and construction of the tomb by bill Thayer:*.html

A collection of photos of the known remnants of the tomb (although the British Museum contests that there is no proof that the next to the last photo and the one before it are truly Mausolus):

Friday, June 3, 2011

Not News: Students misrepresent thier use and IM-ing in class is bad

Not a lot of news here, but it's nice when research backs up your intuition. When asked if they used an instant messaging app in class, 40% of those who had texted in class lied about it. Also IM-ing in class is more disruptive to learning than just surfing off-topic pages.
Read the whole article here:
What They Are Really Typing
May 18, 2011
by Steve Kolowich