Where does the word “mausoleum” come from and Who is the mausoleum named after?

There was once, in Asia Minor, a small kingdom known as Caria.

In the fourth century B.C., its inhabitants were mostly Persians, although those dwelling in the two principal cities, Halicarnassus and Rhodes, were mainly Greeks.

The Persian king at that time was not outstanding and had done nothing that would particularly commend him, but he was greatly adored by his wife, Artemisia, who, in the peculiar customs of the time, was also his sister.

The king’s name was Mausolus. When he died in 353 B.C., his wife was inconsolable. She was said to have had his ashes collected and to have added a portion of them to her daily drink until she died of grief two years later.

But Artemisia also gathered together the best architects and sculptors before her death and caused them to begin to erect at Halicarnassus a sepulchral monument to her husband. This sepulcher was called mausoleum in memory of his name.

It was completed after her own death and was long regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Ruins of the building were excavated in 1857 which showed that the area of its base had been about 230 by 250 feet and that it was cased with marble. Fragments of numerous statues were found, including a statue of Mausolus, now in the British Museum.

The edifice was standing at the time of the Crusades, but was left in ruins by the knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who occupied Halicarnassus in 1402 and used much of the material from the tomb in building their castle.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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