Reconstruction drawing of the Maussolleion, by Andrew Stewart and Candace ...

Context: Halikarnassos
Type: Mausoleum
Summary: Monumental tomb structure with interior tomb chamber, tall podium, peristyle, and pyramidal roof.
Date: ca. 355 BC - ca. 340 BC

Dimensions of peribolos or temenos enclosure 105 m. x 242.5 m.; dimensions of podium at base 38.4 x 32.5 m.; dimensions of stylobate of pteron (= top of podium) 32 m. x 26 m. (thus the podium contracted between base and summit, through the use of steps). Height of central colonnaded element 12 m. Interaxial spacing of colonnade ca. 3 m. Height of pedestal at apex of pyramid, including chariot: 6.6 m. Total height of monument 57.6 m. A further note on the dimensions: according to Pliny, the height of the structure was 44.80 m. or 140 feet, based on a foot measure of 32 cm. There are inconsistencies in Pliny's text, however, and the archaeological evidence is more consistent with a basic module of 30 cm.

Region: Caria
Period: Late Classical
Architect: Pytheos and Satyros

Architectural Order:


Architect Evidence:

attributed to, by Vitruvius De Arch. VII praef. 12-13.


The Maussolleion was rectangular in ground plan, and was designed to be situated in a walled temenos enclosure entered through a propylon in the east wall. Recent reconstructions of the tomb show a two- or three-stepped podium supporting a pteron of nine by eleven columns. The roof of the Maussolleion consisted of a pyramid of twenty-four steps, surmounted by a statue base supporting the crowning element of quadriga and statuary. The building was decorated with much free-standing and relief sculpture, carried out by Skopas, Bryaxis, Leochares and Timotheos, and was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Date Description:

Known dates of the life and career of Mausolus and Artemisia; evidence of careers of the sculptors Skopas, Timotheos, Leochares, and, with less certainty, Bryaxis; if the architect Pytheos is to be associated with the Mausoleum, as ancient sources attest and as is generally accepted, he would have worked on the Mausoleum before completing the Temple of Athena at Priene.


The Maussolleion was the burial location of the Carian dynast Mausolus, who died in 353/2 B.C. Literary sources attribute the construction of the tomb to Mausolus' wife and sister Artemisia (Strabo 14.2.16; Pliny, NH 36.30). Since, however, Artemisia ruled for only two years after Mausolus' death and was dead herself by 351/0 B.C., this does not allow enough time for such a monumental undertaking, and suggests that the Maussolleion was begun during Mausolus' lifetime. The tomb also fits comfortably into the city plan of Halikarnassos, which may have been reshaped by Mausolus in the mid-fourth century B.C. The tomb was still incomplete when Artemisia died, and it is unclear who was responsible for completing it, although it is generally accepted that Mausolus' brother Idreus and Idreus' sister/wife Ada may have continued work on the Maussolleion after Artemisia's death. Some scholars believe that the Maussolleion, like the surrounding temenos wall and its propylon, was never finished; others have suggested that Alexander the Great contributed to the construction of the monument, although this seems unlikely given the nature of the structure and Alexander's animosity towards the citizens of Halikarnassos for their failure to support him. It is generally considered that construction of the tomb came to a standstill in ca. 340 B.C. The Maussolleion remained undamaged at least until the 12th c. A.D. By the early 15th c., however, it had been substantially destroyed, perhaps by an earthquake, and the Knights of St. John removed much of the building stones to construct the Castle of St. Peter nearby. In the sixteenth century, a burial chamber was discovered by the Knights as they sought additional building material. The site was excavated in 1857 by Charles Newton, who removed much of the sculpture to the British Museum. Excavation resumed under Danish direction in 1966.

Other Notes:

The sculptural display of the Maussolleion is restored as follows (in broad outline): on the lower parapet or step of the podium stood life-size groups and single figures representing fighting warriors on horseback and on foot; on the upper parapet of the podium were represented hunting scenes and a sacrificial procession. Crowning the podium was a marble relief frieze representing an Amazonomachy. In the intercolumniations of the cella were free-standing sculptures; a relief depicting a Centauromachy may have been placed at the top of the cella wall. Above the sima of the cella, on the lowest step of the pyramidal roof, were lions in confronting rows. The crowning element of the structure was a statue group consisting of a quadriga containing colossal figures of either Mausolus (in the guise of Helios?) and Artemisia, or representing ancestors of the dynast (for the interpretation, see Waywell 1978, 40-43).

Architecturally, the Maussolleion displays affinities to Egyptian pyramids, not only in the form of its roof with definite apex, but also in its monumental scale; Egypt and Caria had long-standing connections. The tomb of the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great, at Pasargadae, a rectangular gabled tomb on a tall stepped substructure, is also cited as a possible influence on the Maussolleion. Close to home, the Nereid Monument at Xanthos (Lycia) and the Heroon of Perikles at Limyra (Lycia) may also have provided inspiration. The incorporation, however, of elements commonly found in Greek temple architecture, for example the Ionic pillars and relief friezes, suggests that the Greek sculptors and craftsmen who worked on the Maussolleion were trained in the area of religious architecture, and that precedents for such a monumental tomb structure were few.

Other Bibliography:

Newton 1862; Dinsmoor 1908, 3ff., 141ff; Krischen 1956, 72 ff; Jeppesen 1958, 1-67; Jeppesen 1961, 218ff; Jeppesen 1967, 29ff; Vermeule 1968b, 223; Jeppesen 1974, 735 ff; Dinsmoor 1975, 71-74; Jeppesen 1976, 47-99; Jeppesen 1977/78, 169-211; Waywell 1978; Jeppesen 1981, 9-110; Hornblower 1982, 223-274; Jeppesen 1986; Jeppesen 1989, 15-22; Fedak 1990, 71-74.

See Also: London 1000London 1001London 1002London (1008)