As I shared in Easter Island update, an organization has been taking votes for what should be considered the New Seven Wonders of the World. These seven wonders wouldn’t replace the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, but instead a more contemporary list of places worthy of awe and wonder.
Before we get to the actual list, however, let’s take a few steps back.
Why are There “Seven” World Wonders? What’s the Link?
It all goes back to a Greek tourism guide for the region. The oldest known reference is from Antipater of Sidon who wrote:
I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the Colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, ‘Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand.’
– Antipater, Greek Anthology IX.58
To clarify, if Antipater’s eloquent prose obscured the list of the 7 Ancient Wonders, they are (and I know them by heart. I didn’t need Wikipedia for this part. If you know me in person, you probably won’t doubt that claim!):
- The Great Pyramid of Giza (You should be familiar with this)
- The Colossus of Rhodes (A big bronze statue near the harbor on the island of Rhodes)
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- The Tomb of Maussollos at Halicarnassus (where the term mausoleum comes from)
- The Statue of Zeus on Mount Olympus (Greece)
- The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (in Turkey)
- The Lighthouse at Alexandria (This stood quite a while, but was finally destroyed by an earthquake in the end of the 15th century—you can still scuba dive the ruins though.)
So the original list was Greek centric and it has stuck in our collective imaginations all this time.
The New Seven Wonders of the World
Now fast forward 2,500 years.
A Swiss guy by the name of Bernard Weber created a company for the purpose of creating a new list of Seven Wonders of the World. This organization has no official government backing (not that it needs to) and took “votes” for a year or so, starting on January 1, 2006.
If you’re familiar with internet polls, you can see immediately the problem here. There was no limit to the number of votes you could cast. Moreover, the organization allowed for text voting, just like on American Idol. All over the world, locals got whipped up in a frenzy of faux patriotism and sent in their text votes. So, Weber created a “board of experts” to add legitimacy to the organization, all the while selling t-shirts, organizing a pay per view event to announce the winners, and raking in money on text votes.
As a business, it was absolutely brilliant.
The nation of Egypt threw a stink (for reasons I’m not quite sure. They were upset they had to compete.) and the pyramids were taken off the list for the new wonders. I find it odd just because it was the one obvious choice that probably everyone could agree on.
So anyway, these are the winners of the global 7 New Wonders of the World contest.
- The Great Wall (China)
- The City of Petra (Jordan)
- The Taj Mahal (India)
- Machu Picchu (Peru)
- The Colosseum (Italy)
- Pyramid at Chichen Itza (Mexico)
- Statue of Christ Redeemer (Brazil)
What’s Missing From “New 7 Wonders of the World” List
I have no problem with first five I listed. But the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Brazil shows the absurdity of the voting. It’s a cool statue and it’s an icon for Rio, and the nation of Brazil, but it is any more “wondrous” than the Statue of Liberty? If someone builds a cooler, bigger statue, what then?
Consider what was left off the list:
The Statue of Liberty and the Sydney Opera House were near the bottom of the list from the start (and with good reason). The only justification for them being so low and the Christ the Redeemer being on the list is a Brazilian vote campaign. I think given the makeup of the 21 candidates on the list, there is an implicit assumption that the “wonders” are ancient—or at least old—structures. If you want new structures, I’d put onto the list the Strip in Las Vegas, the Panama Canal, the Chunnel, and other major engineering accomplishments man has created across time.
As for Chichen Itza, it has a lot of history and speaks to pre-Hispanic times in Mexico—it absolutely deserves its spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. I’m not so sure it lives up to “wonder of the world.”
In the end, these lists are totally arbitrary, but fun. It’s like arguing for who should be in the Hall of Fame, or who the greatest baseball player of all time was (Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, or Barry Bonds by the way). So long as these lists of wonders around