Colossus of Rhodes History

The guide books to Rhodes say the 100ft high Colossus was built between 304 BC and 292 BC by Chares, a local sculptor, who committed suicide because he felt his feat had not been sufficiently recognized.  According to legend, his statue was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC. The legend says that in 653 AD, Arab pirates stripped and sold the bronze that surrounded Coloussus to a Jewish merchant, who required 900 camels to move the metal.

Strabo, the geographer, and Pliny, the natural historian, had seen the Colossus as it lay 'on the ground' in Rhodes several centuries after its collapse.

It is assumed that after Rhodes came under the Arab Caliphate in AD 653, Saracens sold the bronze of the statue to merchants. Tradition has it that it was carried to the Near East on 980 camels.

Below is a timeline of Rhodes and its famous Colossus:

408 BC Rhodes city founded by alliance of citizens of the island's three ancient cities

305 BC City withstands year-long siege by Demetrius ''Poliorketes'' (the Besieger)

294 BC Chares of Lindos begins to build Colossus, with funds provided by sale of Demetrius's siege engines

282 BC Colossus completed

226 BC Colossus falls in earthquake, broken at the knees

c150 BC Antipater of Sidon includes fallen Colossus among Seven Wonders

AD 77 Roman writer Pliny publishes description of fallen statue, still a tourist attraction

653 Arabs capture Rhodes; remains of Colossus shipped away

1395 Italian traveller de Martoni visits Rhodes and launches myth that the statue stood astride the harbour mouth

1886 Statue of Liberty erected in New York harbour in conscious imitation of Colossus

1932 First detailed modern study, by French scholar Albert Gabriel, suggests Colossus stood at end of harbour mole

1956 British sculptor Herbert Maryon proposes alternative site in heart of ancient city

1987 Dutch clairvoyant Ann Dankbaar claims to pinpoint location of statue half a mile beyond harbour mole. Divers recover an object resembling a fist, which proves to be natural rock

Colossus of Rhodes engraving
Rhodes Old Town

Rhodes Island

Colossus of Rhodes