| Alexander the Great had seventeen
cities named after him. Most of them are no longer around except
for Alexandria, Egypt. This city is where the Lighthouse of Alexandria
stood. Alexander died in 323 B. C. The city was completed by
Ptolemy Soter, the new ruler of Egypt. The city soon became rich.
The city needed a symbol and a mechanism to guide the trade ships
into its harbor. Ptolemy started building the lighthouse in 290
B.C. It was completed 20 years later and was the first lighthouse
of the world. It was also the tallest building with the exception
of the Great Pyramid.
A man named Sostrates of Knidos designed the lighthouse. He thought it needed to have his name carved in the foundation. But Ptollemy II, who ruled after his father, refused and wanted his own name carved in. Sostrates, being a clever man, had this inscription put on the lighthouse: SOSTRATES SON OF DEXIPHANES OF KNIDOS ON BEHALF OF ALL MARINERS TO THE SAVIOR GODS. Then he covered it with plaster. Then they put Ptolemy's name into the plaster. As years passed, the plaster chipped away, leaving Sostrates declaration.
The lighthouse was built on the island of Pharos. 'Pharos' became the word 'lighthouse' in French, Italian, Spanish, and Romanian languages.
In the 10th century A.D., the lighthouse stood about 300 cubits high. That means that the lighthouse stood between 450 to 600 feet high. Wow!
This lighthouse was designed differently than modern lighthouses. It was more like a 20th century sky scraper. There were three stages which were piled on top of each other. The lowest level was about 200 feet square and was shaped like a huge box. The blocks on which the lighthouse was built were marble. There was a staircase in the lighthouse that led the keepers to the beacon chamber. In there, was a curved mirror. It was used to project a fire's light into a beam. Ships could detect the beam from the tower at night or the smoke from it could be seen during the day from up to 100 miles away.
I bet you're wondering what happened to the world's first lighthouse. Most accounts say that, like other ancient buildings, it was probably the victim of an earthquake. It stood for 1,500 years but was damaged by tremors in 365 and 1303 A.D. The final collapse came in 1326.
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