Why would we want to visit Bodrum on the Aegean coast of Turkey? It is located in the area of the Roman province of Caria, and is built over the site of ancient Halicarnassus. It is where Mausolus built a tomb for himself. From this structure we get our word mausoleum.
Only a small city block preserves the remains of the famous Mausoleum. Parking nearby is almost an impossibility, but one of the shopkeepers allowed us to block the entry to his shop for a few minutes.
The small brochure available at the site gives this information about the Mausoleum.
It is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Its construction was initiated by Mausolus, a member of the Hekatomnid dynasty appointed by Persians as the Satrap of Caria, before his death, and continued by his wife and sister Artemisia after his death. Mausolus, the then most important administrator, probably decided to build such an important structure to symbolize his eternity and greatness. Its construction was started just before Mausolus’ death, i.e. just before 353 B.C.
Along with a few architectural fragments at the site, there is a nice model suggesting how the Mausoleum looked. According to the brochure, the tomb may have been as high as a 20-story apartment building.
Is it possible that Paul may have seen this structure when he sailed past Cos (Acts 21:1)? Ferries run between Bodrum (Turkey) and Cos (Greece) today.
Halicarnassus is listed among the towns that were informed by the Romans of their support of the Jews (1 Maccabees 15:23).
The Greek historian Herodotus claimed Halicarnassus as his home.
At least one lesson we learn at Halicarnassus is that monuments built to oneself do not endure for long. Think of Absalom.
Now Absalom in his lifetime had taken and set up for himself the pillar that is in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to keep my name in remembrance.” He called the pillar after his own name, and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day. (2 Samuel 18:18 ESV)
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