Rhodes Earthquake

The Colossus only stood for 56 years before it was levelled by an earthquake in 226 BC. The force of the earthquake was such the statue snapped off at the knees and fell over on to the land.

Ptolemy III offered to pay for the reconstruction of the Colossus, but the Rhodians refused, believing that they had offended Helios.

Computer simulations have since revealed that the earthquake caused a cascade failure in the rivets holding the Colossus together, causing the arms to separate at the shoulder and the knees to buckle.

The Rhodes earthquake of 226 BC, which affected the island of Rhodes, Greece, is famous for having toppled the large statue known as the Colossus of Rhodes. Following the earthquake, the statue lay in place for nearly 8 centuries before being sold off by invaders. While 226 BC is most often cited as the date of the quake, sources variously cite 226 or 227 BC as dates when it occurred.

The architect of this great construction was Chares of Lindos, a Rhodian sculptor who was a patriot and fought in defence of the city. Chares had been involved with large scale statues before. His teacher, Lysippus, had constructed a 60-foot high likeness of Zeus. Chares probably started by making smaller versions of the statue, maybe three feet high, then used these as a guide to shaping each of the bronze plates of the skin.

The Colossus stood proudly at the harbour entrance for some fifty-six years. Each morning the sun must have caught its polished bronze surface and made the god's figure shine. Then an earthquake hit Rhodes and the statue collapsed. Huge pieces of the figure lay along the harbour for centuries.

It is said that an Egyptian king offered to pay for its reconstruction, but the Rhodians refused. They feared that somehow the statue had offended the god Helios, who used the earthquake to throw it down.

A strong earthquake hit Rhodes at around 226 BC. The city was badly damaged, and the Colossus was broken at its weakest point - the knee. The Rhodians received an immediate offer from Ptolemy III Eurgetes of Egypt to cover all restoration costs for the toppled monument. However, an oracle was consulted and forbade the re-erection. Ptolemy's offer was declined.