Science Channel is kicking off a new series exploring the modern-day wonders of the world on Independence Day weekend with an investigation into some of the most recognizable symbols of the United States. Unearthed: Seven Wonders, PopCulture.com can exclusively announce, premieres Sunday, July 5, and will give viewers an inside look at the incredible engineering at American icons like the Washington Monument, Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Mount Rushmore and more. Ahead of the premiere, PopCulture has an exclusive sneak peek at the investigation into the inspiration behind the 305-ft. "enduring symbol of freedom" sitting in New York Harbor — the Statue of Liberty.
With 62,000 lbs. of the purest copper making this massive monument a "modern engineering wonder," the inspiration behind Frederic Auguste Bartholdi's design for the French gift to the newly-formed United States might not be what you first thought. Historian Ed Berenson explained that while Lady Liberty's face initially appears to be modeled after the Roman Goddess of freedom, Libertas, who also appears on the Great Seal of France, there is also a tie to one of the ancient wonders of the world.
It all goes back to the headpiece Lady Liberty is wearing, which Berenson said is very similar to the Colossus of Rhodes, a 110-ft. statue of Helios, the Greek god of the sun, which was built on the island of Rhodes 2,300 years ago. Destroyed just 66 years after it was built, an image from the mid-19th century depicting what the Colossus likely looked like shows him with a similar spiked headpiece.
"It was a great statue — a huge statue — carrying a torch with a crown that had spokes on it, and those spokes represent the rays of the sun," Berenson explained. "We know that [Bartholdi] was interested in colossal statues. He was amazed by them, and he said that he wanted to build something just like that. What Bartholdi did was he amalgamated two — he took the goddess of liberty and he fused it with the Colossus of Rhodes, and out of that came the Statue of Liberty."
Upcoming episodes in this season of Unearthed: Seven Wonders will dive into the engineering marvels of Egypt, the lost civilizations of the Americas and ancient Rome as well as numerous other amazing places and monuments around the world.
Unearthed: Seven Wonders premieres Sunday, July 5 at 8 p.m. ET on the Science Channel. Unearthed: Seven Wonders is produced for Science Channel by Windfall Films. For Windfall Films, John Fothergill and Carlo Massarella are the Executive Producers. For Science Channel, Neil Laird is Executive Producer and Andrew Lessner is Producer.