1863: Turkish women shocked by stone horse genitals

The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (now Bodrum on the south-west coast of Turkey) was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was built in the 4th century BC to house the remains of the powerful Persian governor Mausolus, and Artemisia, his sister and wife.

The site of the mausoleum was excavated in the mid-1850s by British archeologist Charles Thomas Newton. Among Newton’s discoveries were remnants of gigantic stone horses that sat atop the mausoleum roof. These horses were originally more than five metres tall and exquisitely carved from local marble.

According to Newton, the horse statues were also remarkably well endowed. Writing several years later, he recalled having to tow the back half of a Halicarnassus horse through local streets – causing women to swoon at the sight of its enormous genitals:

“After being duly hauled out, he was placed on a sledge and dragged to the shore by 80 Turkish workmen. On the walls and house-tops as we went along sat the veiled ladies of Bodrum. They had never seen anything so big before, and the sight overcame the reserve imposed upon them by Turkish etiquette. The ladies of Troy gazing at the wooden horse as he entered the breach, could not have been more astonished.”

Fragments of the horses are held by the British Museum – though as with other foreign artefacts there is pressure to return them to their place of origin.

Source: Charles Thomas Newton, History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, 1863. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2019-23. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.