The Colossus at Rhodes, a gigantic statue of the Greek god Helios, was constructed in the third century BCE. The statue stood over 30 meters tall at the mouth of the harbor at Rhodes. After Alexander the Great died, his empire was broken into several pieces by his generals. Ptolemy, who was in control of Rhodes and Egypt, controlled much of the commerce on the Mediteranean. Fighting broke out between Ptolemy at Rhodes and another of Alexander's generals. After the fighting was over, the vicorious Rhodians used war plunder to construct the Colossus.
The statue was constructed by Chares of Lindos out of a combination of stone, iron, and bronze. Large stone support pillars were erected at the mouth of the harbour, and embedded with iron cross-bars. The iron bars then were covered with sculpted bronze plates to form the finished colossus.
An earthquake in 226 BCE destroyed the statue, which cracked at the knees and fell onto the land. The Rhodians choose not to rebuild it because the Oracle at Delphi warned that it would anger the god Helios. The statue lay on the ground untouched for over 800 years, and was a popular tourist attraction. In 654 an Arab force under Muawiyah I captured Rhodes and the remains were sold to a traveling salesman from Edessa. The buyer had the statue broken down, and transported the bronze scrap on the backs of 900 camels to his home. Pieces continued to turn up for sale for years, after being found along the caravan route.