A team of archaeologists is busy excavating a section of the Amman Citadel in Jordan when they uncover something incredible: an enormous marble hand. And while the artifact is in itself an extraordinary find, some experts believe that the giant stone body part could be just the start of a monumental discovery.
Of course, the ancient world has something of a reputation for astonishing structures. Indeed, in the era of the Byzantine Empire, the author Philo of Byzantium wrote a work that he called De septem mundi miraculis, or On the Seven Wonders of the World. And in the treatise, Philo describes seven “themata,” or things to see. These days, we might call them must-sees. In the writer’s opinion, they were the most remarkable feats of engineering and art in the ancient world – and therefore places that every traveler should visit.
Today, we don’t actually know if all of these wonders ever really existed. And even if they did, their descriptions may well be subject to exaggeration. Six of these natural and architectural triumphs didn’t make it to modern times, you see, making it impossible to know for sure if the sites were accurately portrayed in Philo’s work. Some of the historic attractions succumbed to natural disasters such as earthquakes, while others fell victim to human malice; nowadays, then, only one survives.