One of the greatest monuments of antiquity, listed among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was the great Mausoleum that dominated Halikarnassos (modern Bodrum), a major polis on the southwest shoreline of Asia Minor. As with many overseas colonies, the inhabitants of Halikarnassos were a blend of Greek and indigenous peoples: here, the local rulers actively promoted Greek and Karian culture. The Mausoleum itself was also a synthesis of different cultural influences. While it featured 36 Ionic columns and an elaborate series of sculptures to rival the Parthenon frieze, this massive structure, 45 m high with a 38.4 × 32 m base, was the tomb of Mausolus, the local satrap and effective ruler of a large region that included nearby islands and Crete. When Mausolus made Halikarnassos his capital in 370, he also had built a magnificent palace. The city also had an agora, a gymnasium, a theatre and other quintessential features of the polis; and its urban plan followed the Hippodamian grid pattern. But it was the Mausoleum that gave the city its distinction; and, although it looked Greek, it served a decidedly un-Greek function. That Mausolos could build something so ostentatious and grand was clear testimony of his enormous personal power. He was sufficiently ‘Hellenized’, as many Karians were by this stage, but Halikarnassos was as much his city as it was the community’s. The day-to-day running of the city remained in the hands of the citizenry, but they were no longer sovereign.
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