The historian Herodotus (484 – ca. 425 BCE), and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305 – 240 BCE) at the Museum of Alexandria, made early lists of seven wonders but their writings have not survived, except as references. The seven wonders included:
- Great Pyramid of Giza
- Hanging Gardens of Babylon
- Statue of Zeus at Olympia
- Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
- Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus
- Colossus of Rhodes
- Lighthouse of Alexandria
The earliest lists had the Ishtar Gate as the seventh wonder of the world instead of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The list known today was compiled in the Middle Ages—by which time many of the sites were no longer in existence. Today, the only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, some writers wrote about lists with names such as Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages, Seven Wonders of the Medieval Mind, and Architectural Wonders of the Middle Ages. However it is unlikely that these lists originated in the Middle Ages because the word medieval was not invented until the Enlightenment-era, and the concept of a Middle Age did not become popular until the 16th century. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable refers to them as "later list[s]" suggesting the lists were created after the Middle Ages.
Many of the structures on these lists were built much earlier than the Medieval Ages, but were well known.
Following in the tradition of the classical list, modern people and organisations have made their own lists of wonderful things ancient and modern. Some of the most notable lists are presented below.
American Society of Civil Engineers
The American Society of Civil Engineers compiled a list of wonders of the modern world:
|Wonder||Date started||Date finished||Location|
|Channel Tunnel||December 1, 1987||May 6, 1994||Strait of Dover, between the United Kingdom and France|
|CN Tower||February 6, 1973||June 26, 1976, tallest freestanding structure in the world 1976–2007.||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Empire State Building||January 22, 1930||May 1, 1931, Tallest structure in the world 1931–1967. First building with 100+ stories.||New York, NY, U.S.|
|Golden Gate Bridge||January 5, 1933||May 27, 1937||Golden Gate Strait, north of San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Itaipu Dam||January 1970||May 5, 1984||Paraná River, between Brazil and Paraguay|
|Delta Works/ Zuiderzee Works||1920||May 10, 1997||Netherlands|
|Panama Canal||January 1, 1880||January 7, 1914||Isthmus of Panama|
In 2001 an initiative was started by the Swiss corporation New7Wonders Foundation to choose the New7Wonders of the World from a selection of 200 existing monuments. Twenty-one finalists were announced January 1, 2006. Egyptians were not happy that the only surviving original wonder, the Great Pyramid of Giza, would have to compete with the likes of the Statue of Liberty, the Sydney Opera House, and other landmarks, calling the project absurd. In response, Giza was named an honorary Candidate. The results were announced on July 7, 2007, in Lisbon, Portugal :
|Wonder||Date of construction||Location|
|Great Wall of China||5th century BCE – 16th century CE||China|
|Christ the Redeemer||Opened October 12, 1931||Brazil|
|Machu Picchu||c.1450 CE||Peru|
|Chichen Itza||c.600 CE||Mexico|
|Colosseum||Completed 80 CE||Italy|
|Taj Mahal||Completed c.1648 CE||India|