The original Seven Wonders of the World are immortalised on a gold foil set from MDM

Is there anything cooler in architecture than the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World?  Of course there isn’t. While modern structures surpass them in scale and outrageous design, these structures were built in a time before digital and electrical technology had even been imagined. Breathtaking in design and pushing every ounce of expertise at their fingertips, these construction projects were the stuff of legend even when the Greek and Roman Empires were still in their ascendancies.

Sadly, just one of the original wonders is still in existence, and even that one has had a hard life. The Great Pyramid at Giza was the tallest man-made structure on Earth for a mind-blowing 38 centuries! It can be visited today, but lost its beautiful white limestone facing in the 1300’s. The other six wonders fell to the ravages of time – ironically the last to be built, falling first. It was only for a period of less than 100 years that all of the wonders (assuming the Hanging Gardens of Babylon did exist) could be seen in complete form. What a holiday trip that must have been. So much better than buying crappy postcards and getting chronic diarrhoea on a cruise ship today. Actually, they probably did just pick up a parchment back then, and I’m pretty sure there would have been quite a bit of belly rumbles as well, but I digress.

MDM’s Seven Wonders coin note series is one of the few that make the jump to gold and has done so using a tiny half gram of gold in each case. Because of this minimal amount of metal, they’re smaller than the silver note size of 150 x 70 mm, coming in at 90 x 42 mm instead. While we’d have loved to see them bigger, the price of gold would have made them very expensive, especially considering there are seven pieces in the set. All are issued for the Solomon Islands and have quite the tropical themed obverse as a result.

As you have already guessed, each of the notes depicts one of the wonders and does so in a style that would not look out of place on a banknote. We only have line art at present, but we feel pretty safe in assuming these will look good at the smaller actual size of the finished article. We will try to get an image of one of the actual notes, as we’re pretty curious about them here. Each note will come sealed for strength and protection, and the set, which can be bought as a subscription, can be placed inside a themed binder. They have a proof-like finish and the mintage is capped at 10,000 pieces. They can be purchased directly from MDM.

The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza pyramid complex bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact.

Based on a mark in an interior chamber naming the work gang and a reference to the fourth dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu, Egyptologists believe that the pyramid was built as a tomb over a 10- to 20-year period concluding around 2560 BC. Initially at 146.5 metres, the Great Pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for more than 3,800 years. Originally, the Great Pyramid was covered by limestone casing stones that formed a smooth outer surface; what is seen today is the underlying core structure. Some of the casing stones that once covered the structure can still be seen around the base. There have been varying scientific and alternative theories about the Great Pyramid’s construction techniques. Most accepted construction hypotheses are based on the idea that it was built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.

The Temple of Artemis or Artemision, also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to an ancient, local form of the goddess Artemis. It was located in Ephesus (near the modern town of Selçuk in present-day Turkey). It was completely rebuilt three times, and in its final form was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. By 401 AD it had been ruined or destroyed. Only foundations and fragments of the last temple remain at the site.

The earliest version of the temple (a temenos) antedated the Ionic immigration by many years, and dates to the Bronze Age. Callimachus, in his Hymn to Artemis, attributed it to the Amazons. In the 7th century BC, it was destroyed by a flood. Its reconstruction, in more grandiose form, began around 550 BC, under the Cretan architect Chersiphron and his son Metagenes. The project was funded by Croesus of Lydia, and took 10 years to complete. This version of the temple was destroyed in 356 BC by Herostratus in an act of arson.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria, sometimes called the Pharos of Alexandria, was a lighthouse built by the Ptolemaic Kingdom, during the reign Ptolemy II Philadelphus (280–247 BC) which has been estimated to be 100 metres  in overall height. For many centuries it was one of the tallest man-made structures in the world. Badly damaged by three earthquakes between AD 956 and 1323, it then became an abandoned ruin. It was the third longest surviving ancient wonder (after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and the extant Great Pyramid of Giza), surviving in part until 1480, when the last of its remnant stones were used to build the Citadel of Qaitbay on the site.

In 1994, French archaeologists discovered some remains of the lighthouse on the floor of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour. In 2016 the Ministry of State of Antiquities in Egypt had plans to turn submerged ruins of ancient Alexandria, including those of the Pharos, into an underwater museum.

The Statue of Zeus at Olympia was a giant seated figure, about 13 m tall, made by the Greek sculptor Phidias around 435 BC at the sanctuary of Olympia, Greece, and erected in the Temple of Zeus there. A sculpture of ivory plates and gold panels over a wooden framework, it represented the god Zeus sitting on an elaborate cedar wood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold and precious stones. It was lost and destroyed during the 5th century AD with no copy ever being found, and details of its form are known only from ancient Greek descriptions and representations on coins.

The approximate date of the statue (the third quarter of the 5th century BC) was confirmed in the rediscovery (1954–58) of Phidias’ workshop, approximately where Pausanias said the statue of Zeus was constructed. Archaeological finds included tools for working gold and ivory, ivory chippings, precious stones and terracotta moulds. Most of the latter were used to create glass plaques, and to form the statue’s robe from sheets of glass, naturalistically draped and folded, then gilded. A cup inscribed “ΦΕΙΔΙΟΥ ΕΙΜΙ” or “I belong to Phidias” was found at the site.

The Colossus of Rhodes  was a statue of the Greek sun-god Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes, on the Greek island of the same name, by Chares of Lindos in 280 BC. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes’ victory over the ruler of Cyprus, Antigonus I Monophthalmus, whose son Demetrius I of Macedon unsuccessfully besieged Rhodes in 305 BC. According to most contemporary descriptions, the Colossus stood approximately 70 cubits, or 33 metres high—the approximate height of the modern Statue of Liberty from feet to crown—making it the tallest statue of the ancient world.

The statue stood for 54 years until Rhodes was hit by the 226 BC earthquake, when significant damage was also done to large portions of the city, including the harbour and commercial buildings, which were destroyed. The statue snapped at the knees and fell over onto the land. Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the statue, but the oracle of Delphi made the Rhodians afraid that they had offended Helios, and they declined to rebuild it.

The remains lay on the ground as described by Strabo  for over 800 years, and even broken, they were so impressive that many travelled to see them. Pliny the Elder remarked that few people could wrap their arms around the fallen thumb and that each of its fingers was larger than most statues.

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus or Tomb of Mausolus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap in the Persian Empire, and his sister-wife Artemisia II of Caria. The structure was designed by the Greek architects Satyros and Pythius of Priene.

The Mausoleum was approximately 45 m  in height, and the four sides were adorned with sculptural reliefs, each created by one of four Greek sculptors—Leochares, Bryaxis, Scopas of Paros and Timotheus. The finished structure of the mausoleum was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was destroyed by successive earthquakes from the 12th to the 15th century, the last surviving of the six destroyed wonders. The word mausoleum has now come to be used generically for an above-ground tomb.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were described as a remarkable feat of engineering with an ascending series of tiered gardens containing a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and vines, resembling a large green mountain constructed of mud bricks, and said to have been built in the ancient city of Babylon, near present-day Hillah, Babil province, in Iraq.

According to one legend, the Neo-Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II, who ruled between 605 and 562 BC, built the Hanging Gardens, alongside a grand palace that came to be known as The Marvel of Mankind, for his Median wife, Queen Amytis, because she missed the green hills and valleys of her homeland; this is attested to by the Babylonian priest Berossus, writing in about 290 BC, and quoted later by Josephus.

The Hanging Gardens are the only one of the Seven Wonders for which the location has not been definitively established. There are no extant Babylonian texts which mention the gardens, and no definitive archaeological evidence has been found in Babylon. Three theories have been suggested to account for this. One: that they were purely mythical, and the descriptions found in ancient Greek and Roman writers including Strabo, Diodorus Siculus and Quintus Curtius Rufus represent a romantic ideal of an eastern garden. Two: that they existed in Babylon, but were completely destroyed sometime around the first century AD. Three: that the legend refers to a well-documented garden that the Assyrian King Sennacherib (704–681 BC) built in his capital city of Nineveh on the River Tigris, near the modern city of Mosul.

OBVERSE

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $10 Solomon Islands
COMPOSITION 0.999 gold
WEIGHT 0.5 grams
DIMENSIONS 90.0 x 42.0 mm
FINISH Prooflike
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 10,000 per design
BOX / COA Yes / Yes
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By |2018-08-26T23:56:35+00:00August 30th, 2018|Categories: Banknote / Foil, History, Gold, MDM, Solomon Islands|0 Comments

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