Around 225 B.C. a Greek engineer, Philo, produced a list of seven temata—“things to be seen”—that are better known today as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Pyramids at Giza; the Statue of Zeus at Olympia; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus; the Colossus of Rhodes; the Pharos of Alexandria; and, most mysterious of all, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Many revisions of Philo’s list followed, and other sites were added and removed according to the tastes of the times. But the Philo seven have become canonical, a snapshot of the monuments whose size and engineering prowess awed the classical mind. Only the Pyramids at Giza (built in the mid-third millennium B.C.) remains intact today. Although five of the others have disappeared, or are in ruins, enough documentary and archaeological evidence is available to confirm that they once stood proud, and are not the product of hearsay or legend.

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