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Sphynz & Great Pyramid - Out of focus photography by J Tyrrell, 1976

Meditation 238
Wonders of the World

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In about 200 BC, Philon of Byzantium identified what he considered to be the seven Wonders of the World: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Temple of Artemis, the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Statue of Zeus, and the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. And of these seven structures, only the Great Pyramid remains today.

Bernard Weber of Switzerland has launched a project to identify a new seven Wonders of the World, and, until November 2005 anyone can vote to select what belongs on the list. Just visit the web site to pick which seven of the 25 candidates you think belong on the list.

But the same as Philon's original list, all 25 candidates for this new selection are structures; mostly buildings, some statues, a wall, and a bridge.

Does something have to be "built" to qualify as a Wonder?

In the July / August Atlantic,[1] Cullen Murphy makes his own tongue-in-cheek selection which goes beyond structures, including as number seven, Barbie.

But really, if we do not limit ourselves to what we have built, but consider overall what humans have achieved, what are the seven Wonders of the World?

This is my selection of the seven wonders of human achievement, which essentially form the foundation on which all the other wonders are built.

  1. Speaking: Learning to communicate, developing a language, this is the very foundation of human society.
  2. Storytelling: At some point, talking moved beyond conveying immediate information and on to telling tales, both fact and fiction. This provided entertainment, teaching, and a method of keeping the past alive.
  3. Religion: How does the world work? How did we get here? Why are we here? Religion was perhaps the earliest attempt to answer these questions. And the number of religions in the world shows how many different explanations were invented.
  4. Writing: A permanent record was not possible without worrying about the limitations of memory. It became easier to pass information on, between individuals and between generations without it being changed.
  5. Philosophy: How does the world work? How did we get here? Why are we here? A more formalized approach to answering these questions, constrained to a degree by religion, but also an opening to liberation from religion.
  6. Science: How does the world work? How did we get here? A structured approach to providing answers based on verifiable observation. The means to getting genuine answers is now available.
  7. Scepticism: A questioning attitude, which rejects blind acceptance of authority, but seeks verification; an attitude which undermines religion, but leads to continuing advances in philosophy and science.


  1. Wonders Never Cease: Updating Philon of Byzantium's famous list by Cullen Murphy, Atlantic July / August 2004 edition