Wonders of the World - Katherine Roberts

When they wanted to impress in ancient times, people built pyramids, or planted fantastic gardens that hung from the sky. Later explorers made notes of the best places for their countrymen to visit and, well, wonder at. The Greeks ended up with a list of seven, which we now know as the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and tourism was born.

You can visit all these sites today, but you'll either find ruins or - in some cases - nothing at all. So when I needed covers for the ebooks of my Seven Fabulous Wonders series based on the original Greek list, I painted the ancient Wonders as I imagine they might have looked in their full glory.

The Great Pyramid of Giza - the first pyramid to be built at Giza in Egypt, and the biggest.

Great Pyramid at Giza, showing the second pyramid being built.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, or maybe the Walls of Babylon - the list makers could not agree, so they settled for hanging the gardens from the walls in most of the pictures... possibly an ancient version of a green wall?

Walls of Babylon, plus some trailing plants and a dragon.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus - not as big as the pyramids, but a bit closer to home.
Temple of Artemis with resident gryphon.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus - ditto, and for a tomb it was a new concept decorated by a lot of impressive statues. The name had a certain ring to it, too, meaning that rich enough people who died after old King Maussollos wanted mausoleums, too.

King Maussollos enjoying his Mausoleum.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia - sadly for Zeus, nobody worships him as king of the gods any more. But we do, at least, remember the Olympic Games.

Goddess Nike, standing in the palm of Zeus Olympia ready to receive the sacred flame.

The Colossus of Rhodes - you had to be quick to see this one, since it stood for just 56 years before being flattened by an earthquake. But, as with Zeus, how many people worship Helios the sun god these days, anyway?

Colossus of Rhodes - or part of it, after the earthquake.

The Pharos of Alexandria - rather impressive for a lighthouse, but it's light was the real wonder, kept burning night and day to guide ships safely into Alexandria's harbour.
Chariot racing at Alexandria, with the Pharos light in the background.

You might have noticed the odd mythical creature in the above paintings. That's because my Seven Fabulous Wonders series (originally published by HarperCollins between 2001 and 2007) contained a hefty dose of gods and monsters to bring these stories alive for young readers. To see more about these books and the original covers at Goodreads - click here.

Of course, we now realize the world is rather bigger than the Mediterranean countries, so over the years people have compiled newer lists of Wonders that follow the same pattern - big, cutting-edge architecture, preferably something amazing that will draw in the tourists... let's not forget why the Ancient Greeks started these lists in the first place! According to wikipedia, the latest list of Modern Wonders, compiled by public vote between 2000 to 2007, is:

The Great Wall of China - ancient enough to have been around when the Greeks were compiling their lists, only they never got as far as China.

Great Wall of China by Severin.stalder

Petra, Jordan - the famous rose city in the desert, with its impressive gateway set into the rock.

Petra by Berthold Werner

The Colosseum of Rome
- the Romans were into building in a big way, especially if it involved gladiatorial games, though in hindsight their roads were probably a more useful contribution to society.

Colosseum by Diliff

Chichen Itza, Mexico
- another kind of pyramid, but much later than the ones at Giza. This one has steps so you can climb it to make gory sacrifices at the top.

Chichen Itza
by Bjørn Christian Tørrissen - http://bjornfree.com/galleries.html

Machu Picchu in Peru - involves a climb of a different sort, which my dad decided to do when he turned 80 (he survived!).

Machu Picchu
by Pedro Szekely - http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/

Taj Mahal, India - one of the most beautiful buildings on the 21st century list, which, like the Mausoleum, was built to house a tomb.

 Taj Mahal by Dhirad

Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Brazil - more appropriate in this century than Zeus or Helios.

Christ the Redeemer by Chensiyuan

And, given honorary status on this modern list...

The Great Pyramid of Giza - yes, the same one the Egyptians built more than 4,500 years ago, though these days without its dazzling limestone render and gold crown and surrounded by copycats.

Pyramids at Giza by Ricardo Liberato

Which brings us full circle and feels rather like republishing old books that have gone out of print - which is, of course, the whole point of this 'wonderful' history lesson.

If you missed them the first time around, or need a new copy for a gift, you can now order a hot-off-the-press brand new paperback copy of Book 1 The Great Pyramid Robbery with cover artwork by me as above... which should at least make these new editions highly collectible after my death.


The other six matching print-on-demand paperbacks are on their way, and all seven titles are also available as ebooks. You can find more details and all the links on the Seven Fabulous Wonders page of my website.

Interestingly, the closest the UK came to having a Wonder on the modern list was Stonehenge - one of the 21st century finalists, and also one of the most ancient of the nominated sites. I wonder what the Greeks would have thought of it, if they had made it to our island a few thousand years earlier? Maybe my Seven Fabulous Wonders series would have included a book called The Stonehenge Sacrifice? Hmm, now that's given me an idea...

Katherine Roberts writes fantasy and historical fiction with a focus on legend/myth for young readers, and historical fiction with a touch of romance for older readers under the name Katherine A Roberts.

Find out more at http://www.katherineroberts.co.uk

Picture credits:
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World paintings copyright (c) Katherine Roberts.
Photos of the modern wonders CC (Creative Commons) individual photographers as above, https://commons.wikimedia.org/


Anonymous said…
What an enjoyable post. I loved your witty interpretation of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and your modern list. Of course Stonehenge must be on it! And the giant buddhas of Afghanistan. Great idea for a book series.

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