Here pictured overlooking Machu Picchu, Dr. Watson Mill has visited all 21 sites in the running to name the New Seven Wonders of the World. He has visited, at least twice, the seven locations that were finally chosen. Many of the sites that were not among the seven winners will be the subject of future articles or have been published already.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World once included the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse at Alexandria. Many lists of the Wonders of the World have been compiled over the centuries down to the present day. These lists seek to catalogue the world’s most spectacular man-made structures.
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World is the first known list of the most remarkable creations of classical antiquity. In the 4th century BC the Greeks had conquered much of the Mediterranean World, so this commonly known list was based upon guidebooks that were popular among Hellenistic sightseers. It included only sites located around the Mediterranean rim and in Mesopotamia. Some scholars suggest that the list was limited to seven sites because the Greeks believed that the number seven represented perfection, as well as the five planets (all that were known at the time) plus the sun and the moon.
Time has taken its toll on these ancient sites, and only the Great Pyramid of Giza survives. Therefore in 2007 a new list was announced. It is known as the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” The campaign to identify the “new” wonders of the world was launched in 1999 by the Canadian/Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber. Almost 200 nominations were received, so obviously the list had to be narrowed. It was cut to 21, then the 21 semi-finalists were presented to the public for voting, open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Organizers of this effort readily admit that there was no foolproof way to prevent people from voting several times for their favorite site.
About 100 million votes were cast by means of the internet, text messages, and telephone according to the “New Seven Wonders of the World” PC, a nonprofit organization that conducted the poll. The seven that were selected beat out the 14 other nominated landmarks which included sites such as the Eiffel Tower, the Moai of Easter Island, the Sydney Opera House, and the Acropolis.
Over the course of the next few months I will write a series of seven articles – one on each of the “New” Seven Wonders of the World. I will attempt to describe my impressions when I visited each of these sites. In today’s column I will identify these sites with a photo and a brief description as well as the date on which the article on each site will appear. This final list of the New Seven Wonders of the World does not assign a pecking order to these sites as to the relative importance of each – not even the status of “first among equals.” So the order of my articles is strictly arbitrary.
The Taj Mahal • Scheduled for July 21-22 Built by Emperor Shah Jaban (1628-1658) as a tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, this mausoleum complex in Agra, India, is one of the world’s most recognizable monuments. It took 20,000 workers 22 years to construct. It is made of white marble and includes an immense garden which features a reflecting pool. Besides its many semiprecious stones in floral patterns, it boasts a majestic, onion-like central dome surrounded by four smaller ones.
The Great Wall • Scheduled for August 4-5 The Great Wall of China is one of the world’s largest construction projects and perhaps the only one that can be seen for outer space. The Wall is approximately 5,500 miles in length. Work on it commenced in 7th century BC and continued for 2,000 years. There are watchtowers and barracks spaced along it.
Machu Picchu • Scheduled for August 18-19 This Incan site on the Yucatan Peninsular, near Cuzco, Peru, high in the Andes Mountains, has confounded scholars and archaeologists since it discovery in 1911. While there is little agreement as to its purpose, it is definitely one of the few major pre-Columbian ruins found nearly intact. The site features agricultural terraces, plazas, residential areas, and temples.
The Coliseum • Scheduled for September 1-2 The Colosseum in Rome is a great feat of engineering and a testimony to the skills of the ancient Roman builders. This amphitheater measures 620 by 513 feet and in its day was capable of holding 50,000 spectators. The Coliseum was built in the first century AD by Emperor Vespasian. Many types of entertainment were staged here; best known among these were gladiator fights and men battling animals.
Petra • Scheduled for September 15-16 The ancient city of Petra, Jordan, is located in a remote valley, nestled among sandstone mountains and cliffs. The Nabataeans, an Arab tribe, made it their capital, and it flourished by becoming an important trade center for spices. The Nabataeans were noted carvers and they chiseled dwellings, temples, and tombs into the sandstone. The resulting buildings change color with the shifting sun.
Chichen Itza • Scheduled for September 29-30 This ancient 9th-10th century Mayan city is located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. There are a number of important monuments and temples located here such as the notable stepped pyramid El Castillo (“The Castle”), which rises 79 feet above the Main Plaza. It has exactly 365 steps–one for each day of the solar year. The site also includes a sporting field – largest of its type in the Americas – where a ritual ball game popular throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica was played.
Christ the Redeemer • Scheduled for October 13-14 Christ the Redeemer, a colossal statue of Jesus, is situated atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was constructed in the years 1926-1931. The monument stands 124 feet high and its outstretched arms span 92 feet. The largest Art Deco sculpture in the world, the statue is made of reinforced concrete and is covered with approximately six million tiles.