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Terence Bell

The Bronze Colossus of Rhodes

By January 27, 2013

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In 304 BC, the Greek island of Rhodes successfully defeated an invasion by their enemies from Cyprus. To commemmorate the victory, the Rhodians melted down the weapons left behind by the Cypriot army and used the metal to Colossus of Rhodesbuild a colossal statue of their patron god Helios.

The statue rose over 30 meters (107 ft) in height and was built by plating 60 inch (1,500 mm) square and half to one inch (12.5-25 mm) thick cast bronze plates onto an iron frame. Standing on its marble pedestal, the structure would have been visible to ships for miles before they arrived at the port city.

After 12 years, construction of the statue was completed in 280 BC. But the remarkable structure only stood for 56 years.

In 226 BC, an earthquake brought the Colossus of Rhodes down. Yet, even in its broken state, the statue inspired awe and attracted travellers from around the Mediterranean.

Eventually, in the 7th century AD, the metal was sold for scrap. According to records, it took 900 camels to carry all of the bronze out of Rhodes.

Over two millenia after the Colussus of Rhodes was constructed, engineers began working on a statue - "The New Colossus" - that they believed reflected the awesome stature of the statue. The Statue of Liberty, fortunately, still stands in New York Harbor.

Read more on the history of copper and bronze.

Image: Taken from The Colossus of Rhodes, by Salvador Dali


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