Opinion

One of these things is not like the other.

Remember that little jingle from Sesame Street? In this case, it could apply to a few things in the bunch. I realize this article may be written belatedly, but the subject matter of which I speak is supposed to be timeless.or at least, it was supposed to be. I’m referring to the Wonders of the World. Last November, “USA Today” ran a series of articles on the “New” Seven Wonders. Are these supposed to replace the “Ancient” wonders?

For those of you who don’t know, those ancient wonders included (1) The Great Pyramids at Giza, (2) the Lighthouse at Alexandria, (3) the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, (4) the Colossus of Rhodes, (5) the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, (6) the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, and (7) the Mausoleum of Maussollos at Halicarnassus. The list was compiled sometime in the Middle Ages, but the precedent for such a catalogue came from the writings of the Greek Herodotus, who really assembled the world’s first travel guide for tourists.

I guess he thought that a few statues of naked people, a big garden, and large triangular pile of stones were things to travel hundreds of miles for. But at least these wonders all had something in common-they were monumental works and the symbolic of the countries in which they were built. Even though only one of them is left-the Pyramids, they must have represented some of the highest creative abilities of man (unfortunately, the Temple in Jerusalem was not included in the list). I have one question with this “new” list of wonders selected by “USA Today”: what do these things have in common? What are baseline criteria for this list? It’s not simply enough to say “things that are wondrous.” There are different types of wonder lists-natural wonders, modern wonders (Empire State Building, for example), engineering wonders, and of course, the ancient wonders.

This new list of wonders seems to be eccentric rather than eclectic. They are, as follows: (1) The Potala Palace of Lhasa, Tibet, (2) Jerusalem, (3) The Marine National Monument in Hawaii, (4) The Polar Ice Caps, (5) The Mayan Pyramids, (6) The Internet, and (7) The Serengeti Plains of Africa. Can someone please tell me how the polar ice caps and the Mayan Pyramids are related?

Some of these things are indeed wonders of the modern world, such as the Internet. Others are wonders of the ancient world, such as the Mayan Pyramids (which are actually not that ancient). Others are natural wonders. The whole thing should have been better clarified and arranged into a more sensible, homogenous list. Natural wonders, modern wonders, or ancient wonders: take your pick. Don’t just throw them into a historical/natural/technological soup. If I had to pick some “new” wonders to replace the no longer extant ancient wonders, they would all be manmade structures representing the highest constructive powers of man.you know, things I could take a picture of front of.

My list, as follows, would be (1) The Forbidden City, Beijing, China, (2) The Taj Mahal, India, (3) St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, (4) Versailles, France, (5) The Empire State Building, USA, (6) The Sydney Opera House, Australia, and of course, (7) The Great Pyramids of Giza.

Always got to have a throwback.

Charles Hanna is a sophomore majoring in architecture. He may be contacted at c.hanna1@umiami.edu.

January 30, 2007

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