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November 1st 2017
Published: November 1st 2017
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"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"Nothing beside remains: round the decayOf that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,The lone and level sands stretch far away"

Having just visited Turkey, there is a realisation that very little remains of that Bronze Age Bucket list: the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Philo's hit-list for the discerning Hellenistic traveller is in much reduced circumstances.

Today, only three of the original have any form of footprint, the Great Pyramid at Giza and the two sites in easy reach of Bodrum; The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The Temple of Artemis has been reduced to a single lonely pillar. A rather knobbly restoration, it stands in the countryside like a referee's admonishing finger. The rest of the good stuff was robbed by the early Christians to build the nearby Basilica of St John, which was then, in-turn robbed by the Ottomans to build a mosque.

It is the same story for the Mausoleum. This proud structure was seriously compromised by a few big shakes prior to around 1400 AD. The good stuff was then robbed by the Knights of St John to build Bodrum Castle. The really, really good stuff was robbed by the Brits in the nineteenth century to provide garden furniture for English stately homes. All that remains is corralled in a cat infested enclosure in a quiet suburb of Bodrum town. This comprises a few pill-shaped column sections around 2 metres in diameter; hinting at its once monstrous and impressive size.

It does lead you to think that history is marked by repeated iconoclasm for practical as well as ideological reasons. The mason's art is repetitively cannibalised by subsequent generations. After a visit to Machu Pichu a couple of years ago, there was the realisation that to gain true immortality in stone you really have to build something in the middle of nowhere.....


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