The “Seven Wonders of the World” is something we all hear about from the time we’re children. If not used to directly reference the actual Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the term is being used to describe some great architectural marvel or feat of engineering. The comparison being that such and such a thing is so great as to be placed among the wonders of the world.
But how many of those seven wonders can you, or anyone, actually name? The chances are that you either can’t name any, or the ones you do name aren’t considered one of the seven wonders. The primary reason for this is that there is only one remaining wonder of the original Seven Ancient Wonders still in existence, the Great Pyramid of Giza. The other ancient wonders have all been destroyed and lost to time: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, earthquake, after the 1st century BC; the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, fire, 356 BC; the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, fire, 5th-6th century AD; Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus, earthquake, 1494 AD; Colossus of Rhodes, earthquake, 224 BC; Lighthouse of Alexandria, earthquake, 1480 AD. Another reason why many would be hard-pressed to name theSeven Wonders of the World is because, well, look at the list. Mausoleum of Maussollos atHalicarnassus?Temple ofArtemis atEphesus? They don’t really roll of the tongue, and, more to the point, they’re not really taught in history classes anymore.
It would seem, then, that the list of theSeven Wonders of the Worldis in need of serious repair—not only to fill out the ranks of the destroyed wonders, but also to make it more relevant to this day and age.
The New7Wonders Foundation has taken up the challenge to revise and expand the list, to create a list of the New 7 Wonders of the World. The New7Wonders Foundation was founded in 2001 to protect “humankind’s heritages” by Bernard Weber, described on the foundation’s Web site as a Swiss adventurer, and is headquartered inZurich. The campaign to christen the New 7 Wonders was launched Jan. 1, 2006, when a list of 21 potential wonders was unveiled. The New 7 Wonders will be chosen by votes cast online, via phone and through the mail, with the final list revealed on July 7, 2007—07/07/07—at a ceremony inLisbon.
The list of 21 is an interesting one. The Great Pyramid is on there, but so is the Statue of Liberty. The Great Wall of China is listed alongside theEiffelTower, Sydney Opera House and Christ Redeemer inRio de Janeiro. The Acropolis, Alhambra in Spain, Taj Mahal, Angkor in Cambodia, the Pyramid at Chichen Itza, the Coliseum, Easter Island Statues, Machu Pichu, the Kremlin and Red Square, Stonehenge, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany, Petra in Jordan, and Timbuktu are also included.
The monuments and landmarks are a nice mix of structures from a broad geographic range and an equally broad sense of significance. Some of the potential wonders had to be included, though. The Great Wall, for instance, can be seen from outer space. It’s a remarkable achievement of human engineering and ingenuity.
If that wasn’t included something would have been seriously amiss. However, why theSydneyOpera House? It’s aesthetically appealing enough, but it’s barely more than 50 years old. The New7Wonders Web site says to vote for it because of “abstraction and creativity.” Fair enough, but couldn’t someone find another abstract and creative structure with a little more history behind it?
The other three more recent constructions — Christ Redeemer, the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty — are also dubious additions given that Christ Redeemer was built in 1931, the Eiffel Tower in 1889 and the Statue of Liberty in 1886. There again seems to be a lack of enough time separating the creation of the thing with the history required to dedicate it a “wonder of the world.” But these three structures have enough historical and cultural significance, both locally and globally, to warrant inclusion on the list. The Statue of Liberty, for instance, was the first thing many immigrants saw upon entering theUnited States. It stood for hope, redemption, friendship and renewal for waves of people looking for a new life in theNew World. While it might seem tacky to have a monument in a country less than 300 years old as one of theSeven Wonders of the World, but its value to the human community is great enough to warrant its inclusion.
The New 7 Wonders of the World campaign is one that feels appropriate for this moment in human history. Global strife is nothing new, but the recent turmoils that have engulfed the world in religious strife and ideological battles have created a stark tone of division across peoples and countries. While the New 7 Wonders won’t solve the AIDS pandemic or the bitter fighting in the Middle East, it could show people that there’s a lot of good in the world that should be embraced, be it inCambodia,Egyptor theUnited States.