Tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus

Mausolus was a Persian Empire governor (satrap) who ruled the territory around Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum, Turkey) on the southwest coast of Asia Minor. He had set up his capital in Halicarnassus due to its harbor with a small access channel, which provided defense against enemy warships. He and his wife, Artemesia, spent considerable tax money to deepen the harbor, make protective breakwaters, and fortifications. They also built streets, squares, community housing; and commissioned statues, buildings, and temples. Mausolus died in 353 BC, leaving Artemisia to rule. She decided (perhaps before his death) to build him a tomb so grand and famous that it became an eponym (mausoleum) for all stately tombs. She hired the most talented Greek sculptors and craftsmen. The tomb was still unfinished when Artemisia died just two years later, but the artisans involved continued construction both as a memorial and as a tribute to their craftsmanship.

The tomb was built on a hill in the city. It was 45m high with 36 columns in the upper third of the structure. Between each pair of columns stood a statue, and a four horse chariot carrying images of Mausolus and Artemisia stood atop the pyramid roof. The structure stood in an enclosed courtyard embellished with statues on the outer walls and stone warriors on horseback at each corner. Access was by a stone stairway flanked by stone lions.

The exact date of the tomb's ruin is unknown. Twelfth century literature suggests it was still standing then, and the Knights of St John crusaders reported in 1402 that it was in ruins. It was probably destroyed by earthquake sometime in between. The crusaders made no attempt to preserve the site, they even used stones from the ruins in the construction of their Bodrum Castle and moved some statues there. The Knights discovered the coffin room inside the tomb, but it had already been plundered by grave robbers who had tunneled under the structure. The bodies of Mausolus and Artemisia were never found; they were most likely cremated and their ash bearing urns placed in the tomb.

By the 19th century all that remained were the foundations and some broken sculptures. Archaeology continued through the 20th century, and many fragments were removed to museums. Today, at the site, there remain stone fragments, and there is a small museum housing fragments of some of the original sculptures.   Link.