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The Goods | Cyburbia

A Site Best Described as Wonder Full

February 06, 1996|DAVID COLKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Some Internet sites dazzle you with multimedia wizardry, others with highly original content and still others with spectacular graphics.

"The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World" site on the World Wide Web has none of the above. It's mostly text and the topic is a historical one that we all remember from grade school.

But this site--by Alaa Kamal Ashmawy, a postdoctoral fellow in geosystem engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology--is so fascinating and so tastefully put together that it's deservedly making it onto many of the ubiquitous "10 Best" lists floating around the Net.

It can be found at http://pharos.bu.edu/Egypt/Wonders/ and its home page begins with the statements: "Most people know that a list exists of the Seven World Wonders. Few can name them." Luckily, he next provides a chronological list.

The earliest one, ironically, is the only one still standing--the Great Pyramid of Giza. It's followed by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Temple of Artemis at Epheus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

The home page goes on to give a short explanation of how the list originated and it cites some of the earliest mentions of it. The first that we know of is found in "History," by Herodotus, which dates back to the 5th century BC. This puts it well into the realm of public domain, and with a click on a link provided on the site, you can go directly to the complete text, in English, of that work.

The home page is the one part of the site I found a bit disappointing. Ashmawy got me so interested, I wanted to know much more about the origins of the list than his far too general statement that "the final list of the Seven Wonders was compiled during the Middle Ages."

Following the home page are numerous pages for each of the Wonders, each topped with an artist's rendering or photograph (in the case of the pyramid). Here, the information is much more in depth. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that we don't really know the exact shape and appearance of several of the Wonders.

One of them--the Hanging Gardens of Babylon--may have not even existed, according to contemporary archeologists, and might simply be the stuff of legend.

All this makes for wonderful reading, and sparks flights of fancy as you try to imagine the time and place of these spectacular wonders. Dazzle would have just gotten in the way.

* Cyburbia's e-mail address is David.Colker@latimes.com.

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