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Rhodes' Colossal Contest Volume 53 Number 4, July/August 2000
by Yannis Stravrakakis and Spencer P.M. Harrington

Civil authorities on the island of Rhodes are planning a statue inspired by the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the ancient world's seven wonders, to be erected on the Greek island in time for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. The island's city council will announce an international competition at the end of this year, soliciting design proposals to be judged by a specially commissioned panel of artists, architects, and engineers.

Though widely reported as an attempt to reconstruct the Colossus--the 110-foot bronze statue of the sun god Helios built in 290 B.C.--the proposed statue will function as a "monument to the millennium," according to George Yannopoulos, the mayor of Rhodes. The statue, he says, "will represent the symbolic values of the Colossus without any archaeological references to it, and without any attempt at imitating the original statue."

Even if the city desired an imitation of the Colossus it would only be conjectural. No one knows what the original statue looked like, or exactly where it was located. Ancient sources say an earthquake in 224 B.C. broke the Colossus at its knees, after which the statue remained in pieces until it was carted to Syria to be melted down in the seventh century A.D.

Members of the Rhodes' city council have examined funding proposals for similar projects, like the planned reconstruction of the Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt, and are trying to find sponsors for the statue in Greece and abroad. Yannopoulos says he hopes the monument, when completed, "will be dedicated to the human spirit and to the human values of international freedom, peace, friendship, and cooperation between people."

© 2000 by the Archaeological Institute of America