Home | More Articles | Papyrus | Cartouche | Ladies Accessories | Home Decor | Mother of Pearl | Rugs | Others







Web kingtutshop.com

The Pharos (Lighthouse) of Alexandria


Egyptology Articles


Herbs and Aroma

Alternative Medicine

Aroma Therapy



One of the Seven Wonders of the World, The world's first lighthouse, the Pharos lasted for 1500 years rendering guidance to sailors coming to the harbor. Built about 270 B.C. and upon completion, the Alexandria lighthouse - commonly estimated to have been about 400 feet high - was one of the tallest structures on Earth. The Greek architect Sostratus designed it during the reign of King Ptolemy II. Destroyed by earthquakes in the 14th century A.D.  Recently, some divers in1996 claimed to have found the ruins of the fabled lighthouse of Pharos while investigating the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

History of the Pharos:

The history of the Pharos (Lighthouse) begins in the third century BC, when Ptolemy II built the lighthouse on an idea of his father Ptolemy I.. It rose some 100 meters in a kind of courtyard of colonnades, set on a square base surrounded by an octagonal level, then a third cylindrical level. At its top there was a lantern crowned with a statue of Poseidon. From the fourth to 14th centuries AD, however, the mighty structure was destroyed by a series of earthquakes. When the Arab traveller Ibn Battuta visited Pharos in 1349, he found it "in such a state of ruin that it was impossible to enter". Over a century later, the Mamluke Sultan Ashraf Quaitbay built a fort on the site.



What happened to the lighthouse? Certain parts were recuperated and integrated with the fort. But there was little interest, until recently, in knowing more about the main building and the statuary which lay underwater. 

It was only in the 1990s that the lighthouse resurfaced. While shooting underwater scenes for a film on Hellenistic Alexandria, the Egyptian director Asmaa El-Bakri noticed a concrete dike being built on top of the ruins to protect Fort Quaitbay. The subsequent press campaign led the SCA to suspend work and give the green light to an archaeological mission to save the vestiges. Begun in 1994 under the direction of Jean-Yves Empereur, head of the Alexandria Study Centre, the mission has thus far classified over 2,000 pieces. Funds were contributed by the Institut français d’archéologie orientale (IFAO) and Gedeon – a multimedia company which has produced a documentary in cooperation with the Louvre Museum, the cultural foundation of Elf Aquitaine and Electricité de France.

The profusion of objects superposed from different periods – Pharaonic, Ptolemaic and Roman – complicate the job. But a computerized analysis of maps of the site and examination of each block has enabled them to distinguish two categories of findings. According to Empereur and Jean-Pierre Corteggiani, an IFAO Egyptologist, the presence of sphinx and hieroglyphic inscriptions can be explained by the Ptolemaic practice of reusing Pharaonoic vestiges, generally taken from Heliopolis (near Cairo). Some of these, mixed with Hellenistic and Roman elements were probably thrown into the sea at the end of the Roman period and at the time of the Mamlukes to protect the port of Alexandria from enemy attack.

The other category of findings consists of much heavier blocks of granite – 49 to 69 tons. The fact that some were broken into two or three pieces indicates that they fell from a great height. Empereur’s team is convinced that these are remnants of the lighthouse. Several dozen pieces have already been raised, restored and are currently on view in the open-air amphitheatre of Kom el Dikka, in Alexandria.

The discoveries opened new perspectives for Egyptian archaeologists. Just few months ago, the CSA created a department of underwater archaeology. 


The Discovery of the Ruins: 

A Strange figures were noticed under the waters around Pharos, off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt. Dive down six or eight meters and you’ll find yourself face to face with sphinxes and colossal statues of men and women. A stone torso of a woman from the third-century B.C. Pharos of Alexandria - a lighthouse that was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - has been salvaged from the Mediterranean Sea. A number of sculptures in the sea around a fifteenth-century fortress built by the Mamluke sultan Qait Bay had been reported in a 1974 article in Nautical Archaeology, which suggested that the Pharos might have stood on the site. In 1993, when the Egyptian government began building a concrete breakwater around the base of the fortress to protect it from storm damage, there was an outcry from archaeologists who feared the operation might destroy any surviving remains of the Pharos and other nearby ancient buildings. The project was temporarily halted, and scholars from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the French Centre d'Études Alexandrines, led by Jean-Yves Empereur, began searching the waters around the fortress. According to Chris Scarre of Cambridge University, "Their finds confirm that one side of the Pharos collapsed into the sea, and that much material from this amazing structure still lies scattered on the seabed. Only now can we begin to appreciate the true extent and importance of the remains." In addition to the torso, Empereur's team has recovered some 30 other sculptures not from the Pharos, including sphinxes, granite columns and capitals, a fragment of an obelisk with a hieroglyphic inscription, and a headless statue of the pharaoh Ramesses II (ca. 1290-1224 B.C.). How and when the construction of the breakwater will resume has not yet been settled.

The world's first lighthouse, the Pharos was built to warn sailors of the treacherous sandbars off Alexandria, one of the busiest ports of the ancient world. It consisted of a three-stage tower, decorated with sculptures of Greek deities and mythical creatures, atop which stood a lantern with a giant bonfire whose light may have been focused by mirrors, perhaps made of polished bronze, into a beam visible 35 miles out to sea. More than 300 feet tall, it was among the tallest man-made structures until the completion of the 1,050-foot Eiffel Tower in 1889. The lighthouse was still functioning when the Arabs conquered Alexandria in A.D. 642, but an earthquake damaged the lantern about 50 years later. The Pharos was hit by another earthquake in 1303, and by 1349 it was in ruins; in 1480 Qait Bay's fortress was built on the site.--


You may freely reprint this article or place it on your website by adding this statement: Courtesy of  www.kingtutshop.com





Contact us
Rugs Kilim | Tapestries  
Other  Rosetta Stone | Egyptian Thrones

Mother of Pearl Boxes | Paper Clips | Photo Frames | Plates 

Home Decor Hang to wall plates  |  Candle Holder  |  Perfume Warmer
Free  Information    Ancient Egyptian Civilization and Egyptology Articles
Ladies Accessories Egyptian Silver Jewelry  | Bracelets | Necklaces | Earrings | Perfume Bottles | Pharaohs bags
Egyptian Cartouches  Egyptian 18K Gold Cartouches  |  Egyptian Silver Cartouches | Silver with Gold Cartouche
Papyrus  Strips | Papyrus Kit | Writing Kit | Blank Sheets |  Paintings | Wedding Invitations | Logos | Papyrus outlines
Others Payment | FAQ | Retailers | M Distributors| Testimonial | What's New | Special Offer | Catalog |  Links | Add Site | affiliate | Site Map
Misc. : Papyrus Calendar | Papyrus Coaster | Papyrus Book Marks | Mouse Pad | Note Books | Hieroglyphic stickers