In the second century B.C., a Greek poet known as Antipater of Sidon compiled a list of the seven most amazing creations of human architecture in the world known to the Greeks at the time. The list was called the "Seven Wonders of the Ancient World." These structures are exceptional in their beauty, their size or both. The original list included the following landmarks:
1. The Egyptian pyramids (Egypt)
2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon (modern-day Iraq)
3. The statue of Zeus in Olympia (Greece)
4. The Temple of Diana in Ephesus (Turkey)
5. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Turkey)
6. The Colossus of Rhodes (Greece)
7. The Lighthouse of Alexandria (Egypt)
Of all the seven wonders, only one still exists today: the pyramids. The others are in unrecognizable ruins, and some debate whether or not the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ever existed at all. Because people can still visit them, the Egyptian pyramids have been the most fascinating wonder for many -- but why were they built in the first place? In ancient Egypt, dead bodies were carefully preserved because people believed that the soul would return to the body in the afterlife. Personal valuables were placed in tombs along with the mummies of nobility and royalty so they could use the objects in the next world. Before about 2700 B.C, nobles and kings were entombed in mastabas -- rectangular brick or stone structures with flat roofs and sloping sides. Most tombs were looted, so Egyptians made stronger and larger structures to protect them. A pyramid is a four-sided structure with triangular sides that meet in a point at the top. Eventually, pyramids became the standard royal tombs. They were strong, their passages were blocked, and their entrances were faced over, making them safer. Even so, most ancient Egyptian pyramids were looted.
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