By SAMIRAN CHAKRAWERTTI
Potala Palace in Lhasa,Tibet
NEW DELHI - When Greek writer and poet Antipater of Sidon drew up a list of the Seven Wonders of the World around 140 BC, he couldn't have imagined his list would outlast six of the seven wonders on it. Though only the pyramids at Giza remain today, there hasn't been a consensus list of seven modern wonders since then.
More than 2,000 years later, Bernard Weber, a Swiss adventurer, is drawing up a new list and he's getting the whole world to choose the seven wonders online.
Pyramids of Chichen Itza, Mexico
With 17 million votes polled, the frontrunners are a mixed bag of the expected and totally unexpected. The Taj has just about sneaked into the first seven at the moment. The pyramids of Giza aren't even among the 31 wonders on the list so far. The Great Wall of China leads the race with 11.3 per cent of the vote, with Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, constructed in 1645, in second place with 8.7 per cent.
The Colosseum at Rome, built in the first century AD, is next on the list, with a little over 7 per cent of all votes, followed by Pyramids of Chichen Itza, in Mexico's Yucatan peninsula, built by the Mayans who thrived there between 700 and 900 AD.
Large stone statues, Chile
In fifth place are the large stone statues, or moai, in Easter Island, Chile, thought to have been built by Polynesian inhabitants of the island between 1600 and 1730 AD. The more familiar Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Taj Mahal are in sixth and seventh place, with both having polled about 6 per cent of the vote so far.
Rounding off the top 10 are the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Machu Picchu, a well-preserved town on a mountain ridge in Peru, thought to have been constructed by an Inca emperor about 1440 AD, and the Red Square and Kremlin in Moscow.
Taj Mahal, India
A list like this is bound to be controversial. Even in Antipater's time, others, such as Philon of Byzantium, drew up their own lists. Most agreed on six of the seven wonders - the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and the Colossus of Rhodes - but the final place was disputed. Some awarded it to the Walls of Babylon, others to the Palace of Cyrus, apart from the Lighthouse at Alexandria, which finally made it to the list.Wonders of wealthy world?
The Great Wall of China
New Delhi: How are the new seven wonders of the world being picked? Those who want to vote log in to a site launched in 2000, www.new7wonders.com
and record their choice. Voting will remain open till January 1, 2006, on which date the results will be broadcast live worldwide.
While the extensive coverage given to the current list — the website launch was televised by CNN and Channel 9, among others — might give it some legitimacy, the list will be far from representative of the whole world’s choices. First, only 2.4% of the world has access to the Internet, which is a prerequisite for voting.
Even that number is highly skewed across nations. While two in five people in the developed world have Internet access, only one in 50 in the developing world can log on.
As if that wasn’t enough, while the website allows anyone to vote, it requires the voter to make an international phone call to get a ‘personal code’ without which your vote won’t be counted.
Perhaps Bernard should call his list ‘The Seven Wonders of the Wealthy World’?