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Their names still echo down the ages: The Great Pyramid at Giza. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. The Temple of Artemis. The statue of Zeus at Olympia. The mausoleum of Halikarnassos. The Colossus at Rhodes. The Lighthouse of Alexandria. The Seven Wonders of the World were staggeringly audacious impositions on our planet. They were also brilliant adventures of the mind, test cases for the reaches of human imagination. Now only the great pyramid remains fully standing, yet the scale and majesty of these seven wonders still enthral us today. 

In a thrilling, colourful narrative enriched with the latest archaeological discoveries, bestselling historian Bettany Hughes walks through the landscapes of both ancient and modern time. This is a journey whose purpose is to ask why we wonder, why we create, why we choose to remember the wonder of others. She explores traces of the Wonders themselves, and the traces they have left in history. A magisterial work of historical storytelling, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World reinforces the exciting and nourishing notion that humans can make the impossible happen.



Bettany Hughes is the most perfect tour guide I know. Her boundless enthusiasm, clarity and learning combined with a matchless gift for storytelling bring the Wonders of the World leapingly alive. A wondrous wonderful achievement. Stephen Fry

A thrilling armchair journey from a very wise woman. Bettany Hughes is the eighth wonder of the world.

 Lucy Worsley, author of Agatha Christie

A lively exploration of the ancient world, this fascinating book is brimming with stories of people and places, all told with Bettany's natural sense of wonder and adventure. Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The World: A Family History

Taking us on a truly fascinating journey through the ancient world, Bettany Hughes not only rebuilds the wonders themselves in the reader's imagination, but also vividly conjures up the culture and environment in which they existed. It is a tale of people as well as places, and I loved learning about what the wonders meant to those who built and visited them, their stories told by Bettany Hughes with trademark passion and humour.

Elodie Harper, author of The Wolf Den

This is an entrancing book, at once a love letter to the ancient world and a learned introduction to some of the most astonishing feats of imagination and engineering in human history. It is a pleasure to wander lost realms and inspect (mostly) vanished marvels through Bettany Hughes' bright and erudite writing.

Dan Jones, author of Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages

So vividly written that it is as if the reader is there, discovering the Seven Wonders first hand. The stories behind them are endlessly fascinating, often surprising, and stay in the memory long after the last page has been turned. A dazzling achievement.

Tracy Borman

Every page of this generously illustrated travelogue yields a treasure house of information and reflection on Egyptian, Babylonian and Greek masterworks of architecture, urban planning and sculpture.

Paul Cartledge, author of Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece

Informed by careful research and enriched by inspired prose, this book is itself a wonder. Bettany Hughes has given new and powerful meaning to the ancient world's most iconic monuments.

James Romm, author of Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero

Thrilling, epic, exciting, Bettany Hughes' gripping and scrupulously researched Seven Wonders takes you as if by magic to the great, lost sites of ancient genius, these incredible feats of human imagination and breadth. With skill, scholarship and brilliant writing, Bettany Hughes explores these majestic sites in detail. A magical, sweeping, dazzling book.

Kate Williams

'she's hugely engaging'

The Glasgow Herald

‘this fantastic new book from the brilliant Bettany Hughes…is a joy from the outset’

Peter Frankopan 


Egypt's The Great Pyramid, the only one of the Seven Wonders that survives virtually intact, reminds us of the overwhelming human desire to collaborate and create "beyond the possibilities of the individual," states Bettany Hughes in her rich historical study The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on The Hanging Gardens of Babylon and learned that "paradise" comes from the Persian word for a beautiful walled garden. 

Martin Chilton, Independent

A trip to modern-day Egypt is an appropriate starting point for Bettany Hughes's fascinating exploration of the impact such structures have had on our history and imagination. Mixing the latest archaeological and historical research with a bright, inquisitive style makes these places - and their peoples - come alive.

Ben East, Observer

'...the relics of the magnificent seven still feed our genetic need to be amazed at what humanity can do with enough means and motivation. In her well-researched travelogue which draws heavily on recent archaeological discoveries, Hughes says 'Powerful civilisations leave behind great monuments. Great civilisations leave behind powerful ideas.'

The Times

A thrilling journey in the footsteps of the ancients... One of the great joys of Hughes's book is the way she follows her wonders into their own less-than-glorious afterlives... It is this capacity to move deftly between registers - mythic, historical, sacred, profane and pitifully personal - that makes her such a beguiling guide.

The Guardian, Book of the Day 

'From the Great Pyramid of Giza to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the statue of Zeus at Olympia, the historian gives us both a portrait of the seven wonders of the ancient world themselves, and a paean to human imagination and capability to create.'

The Best Books to Read in 2024, The i

“In The Seven Wonders Of The Ancient World, Bettany Hughes brings to life astonishing feats of engineering and creativity in mostly long-destroyed wonders. Her historical storytelling encourages the reader to question why humanity creates, why we remember some wonders over others, and what it is about the stories entwined with them that fire our curiosity. The Great Pyramid of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Halikarnassos, the Colossus at Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria have made staggering imprints on our planet – and while we are taught their relevance in school, this book emphasises not only the scale and majesty of each of the seven wonders, but the human story behind them and encourages the reader to fall in love with them all over again. This book will fire your imagination and take you on a wonderful tour of the ancient world.”

Press Association 

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