The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria – An Archeological Perspective Essay Sample

Ben was concentrating over the book. and he shortly started copying the image. “It lasted a thousand old ages and was 40 narratives tall. I bet if they sent frogmans down. they could still happen some balls of it. Why don’t they do that? ”

“I think they’ve tried. but the underside of the Mediterranean has been filled up with beds and beds of sand. silt. and what have you for all those old ages. ” ( Page. 2003. p. 80 )

The Pharos at Alexandria was the tallest and most astonishing beacon of all time built by any state in any age – antediluvian or modern. Alexander the Great founded the brilliant metropolis of Alexandria on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in the Egypt of 23 centuries ago. Not much of this ancient capital survives today. for its past glorification lies buried deep resistance. Under the Waterss of its seaport particularly. there lie gigantic hoarded wealths of a rich and varied yesteryear. Today. a few submerged archaeological sites accessible to visitants here offer recreational adventurers a whole new experience of sing ancient artefacts – in a manner no museum can ( Buckley 2002 ) . Naturally. there are even proposals to construct an underwater museum here.

In these cloudy Waterss are found the leftovers of the Alexandria’s most dramatic memorial. “a tower on an island. of colossal tallness. built with astonishing plants. ” as Julius Caesar one time described it. It was declared one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient universe. and was the latest building to be reckoned in this iconic list. For centuries this mighty marble and sandstone building astonished all who had the good luck to lay eyes on it — until a ruinous temblor brought it crumpling down. Today. the ruins of this brilliant ancient skyscraper prevarication buried in shallow Waterss. along with a host of other deep-set hoarded wealths.

Alexandria’s greatest hoarded wealths lie 6-8m beneath the moving ridges. Out there are the amazing ruins of the Pharos of Alexandria – the beacon known as the Seventh Wonder of the World – Cleopatra’s castle. colossal columns and drowned rock Gods. ( Alexander. 2002 )

In 4th and 3rd centuries BC. during the reigns of Ptolemy I and his boy Ptolemy II. Alexandria developed into a great metropolis which became the gem of the Mediterranean. taking over from Athens as the commercial and cultural capital of the Grecian universe. Immigrants were recruited from all over the Grecian universe to the new metropolis. and shortly at that place evolved a assorted population of Greeks. native Egyptians. Jews. and other cultural groups. The first Ptolemies developed the layout of the metropolis ( based on a grid program around two chief crossing thoroughfares running the length of the ancient metropolis ) and raised some of its most celebrated constructions. An interesting ancient description of the metropolis is found in book 17 of the geographer Strabo. who visited Alexandria in 24 BC. Mention of it is besides made in Pliny’s Natural History. However. beyond such scattered literary beginnings extant today. our cognition of ancient Alexandria had been limited because the ancient metropolis has been continuously inhabited and built over. and small of its glorious heritage remains integral today. Further. Alexandria’s shoreline has sunk several metres since antiquity. submersing big countries of the original metropolis. Most significantly. the legendary ancient library of Alexandria which could hold provided us with plentifulness of relevant information was burnt during Muslim invasions during the mediaeval epoch.

The seaports of the Hellenistic age were normally of huge size and incorporate program. The premier seaport of the period was the 1 at Alexandria. The program of this seaport is crowned by the celebrated Pharos. the visible radiation of which could allegedly be seen from about 50 kilometers off. There were two basins at Alexandria. the Great Harbor. which faced E. and the Eunostos. which faced west. The Great Harbor or the Eastern Harbor was formed by two rock moels ( one of which was 900 metres long ) . the tips of which were 600 thousand apart. though submerged obstructions reduced this gap to two entrywaies. 100 and 200 m broad. severally.

Located on the level Nile Delta. the hustling port of Alexandria had no bluffs or other elevated natural characteristics to function as seamark for seamans. and that was the ground a Pharos was needed in the first topographic point. The building of it in the Eastern Harbor was started by Ptolemy I in 290 BC. After his decease. the undertaking was completed by Ptolemy II in 280 B. C. It was built at a astonishing cost and used a considerable sum of slave labour. It was the innovation of the Crane that allowed the building of both the Colossos of Rhodes and the Pharos beacon at Alexandria ( Kearney. 2004. 38 ) . The beacon was genuinely prodigious in graduated table. a wonder of ancient technology and one of the most legendary edifices in all of antiquity. standing anyplace between 360-ft to 450-ft high. It was likely constructed on the site of an earlier smaller beacon on the Pharos Island. In antiquity. the little offshore island of Pharos was connected to the mainland by a causeway. For over thousand old ages. the Pharos visible radiation guided ships in and out of Alexandria’s Potrus Magnus. the Eastern Harbor.

This huge construction. lifting merely above the tallness of the Statue of Liberty. acted as a beacon to crewmans still some tonss of stat mis out to sea. and guided their class among the unreliable reefs that lay merely beyond the city’s seaports. This was accomplished by agencies of a fire which blazed at the acme during the dark and a mirror which reflected the sun’s beams by twenty-four hours. The mirror was besides used to magnify the visible radiation of the fire. and was largely likely made from a curving sheet of polished metal. Achilles Tatius likened the construction to “a mountain. about making the clouds. in the center of the sea. ”

Soldiers or slaves – the beacon keepers – tended Pharos’s immense fire in a great caldron on the tower’s top degree. make fulling the skies with bright fires and aglow fume. Although the scope of Pharos beacon was said to hold reached up to 50 kilometer. in all chance it could hold reached merely half that distance. and that excessively in just conditions conditions. However it had been sometimes claimed that it was even seeable a hundred or hundred and 50 kilometres out in the sea. like a superb star steering the class of seamans.

Surely. this baronial construction must hold had a profound consequence on the consciousness of Alexandria’s dwellers. in the similar mode as Acropolis had on the citizens of Classical Athens. and the Eiffel Tower had on Parisians around the bend of the century. Pharos was more than a beacon. Every twenty-four hours it was crowded by visitants. Alexandrians every bit good as travellers from every corner of the universe. It was approached foremost through the Heptastadion at the entryway to Alexandria’s first-class seaport. a wall of solid granite that extended the length of seven bowls ( 1250m ) and connected the metropolis with Pharos Island ( Humphrey et al. 1998. 472 ) . The beacon consisted of three subdivisions. The base was of square building. the in-between part octagonal. and the top cylindrical. The construction was topped by the statue of Poseidon. the Grecian God of Sea. This towering construction was to be the paradigm of all beacons in the Roman imperium and finally the full universe. For centuries. it majestically withstood the storms of tide and clip.

The Pharos was described by many ancient writers and was depicted on coins of the Roman period. Writers and travellers from the medieval periods described the Pharos and the harm it received in consecutive temblors. Artists painted their notional constructs of it.

The Frankish pilgrim. Arculf. gives us this prosaic history of the beacon ( ca. 680 ) :

At the right-hand side of the port is a little island. on which there is a great tower which both Greeks and Latins called Farus because of its map. [ ‘Pharos’ subsequently became an etymological root for the word ‘lighthouse’ in many Romance linguistic communications. for illustration. in Gallic it is ‘phare’ ] . Voyagers can see it at a distance. so that before they approach the port. peculiarly at night-time. the combustion fire lets them cognize that the mainland adjoins them. lest they be deceived by the darkness and hit upon the stones. or lest they should be unable to acknowledge the bounds of the entryway.

When Ibn al-Shaikh visited Pharos in 1165. it was no longer used as a beacon. though it was still in good form to a big extent. and a mosque stood at its really top ( Sarton. 1993. 28 ) . In the descriptions of ulterior Arab geographers the devastation wrought upon the great beacon by temblors featured conspicuously. From their Hagiographas we can besides garner that the Pharos had become a watchtower from which the endangering ships of the work forces of Byzantium might be seen. ( Due to a spiritual split. Egypt was divided from the the Byzantine Roman Empire. and subsequently on. it was occupied by the Arabs. )

An lettering found on one of its walls attests the engagement of Sostratus of Cnidus. who is most likely its designer. Forbidden by the Pharaoh to tie in his name with the tower. as was the tradition during those times. Sostratus carved his name on a tower wall. and so plastered over the lettering so as to carve the name of his employer Ptolemy on it. The builder justly assumed that the plaster would finally crumple away uncovering the name of Pharos’s true designer.

Sostratus’ creative activity was wholly destroyed by the temblors of A. D. 1303 and 1323 ( Woods. 2000. 65 ) . The elephantine blocks of granite and marble toppled into the seaport and interfered with transportation for about a 100 old ages before a channel was cleared of the biggest pieces. Equally late as A. D. 1480. the stump of the tower still protruded from the Heptastadion. Around this clip. the Mamaluk grand Turk of Egypt built a fortress and palace at that place. utilizing the marble base of the fallen Pharos for walls. The 15th-century garrison of the Sultan Qait Bey today still stands on the site.

For many old ages in Alexandria. narratives were told of fabulous statues and engraved blocks scattered across the sea floor merely outside the Eastern Harbor. However. for a long clip the country was a military zone and considered off-limits to scientific probe. Merely in the 1990’s submerged diggings were carried out near the garrison. uncovering major remains of the mighty Pharos.

In 1960. Kemal Abul-Saadat. a immature frogman seeking for fish at a deepness of 24 pess. spotted fragments of an huge statue. one entirely mensurating more than 20 pess long. Egyptian naval frogmans. together with experts from Alexandria’s Greco-Roman Museum. were summoned to the country and after careful scrutiny verified the immature man’s study. reasoning that the immense subdivision of the sculpture was a fragment of the colossal statue of Poseidon that rested for centuries on the top of Pharos beacon. Returning to the site one time once more. the Egyptian frogmans and bookmans discovered a smaller statue. several columns. and a ample sphinx. However. the unsmooth seas prevented them from retrieving more of the fallen antiquities. and because of the clay and silt at the sea’s underside. they were unable to take any exposure.

In 1968. the Egyptian authorities. via UNESCO. invited Honor Frost to analyze the site believed to be the remains of the Pharos beacon. Frost enlisted the aid of Abul-Saadat ; the latter by now knew of 100s of submersed archaeological remains in Alexandria’s Waterss. drew maps of the Eastern Harbor. specifying the site of Antirhodos Island and the archaeological remains around Cape Lochias outside the seaport. Together. they examined the site and gave a list of 17 different points located at that place. Frost noted that such grounds would be multiplied a hundred-fold through a large-scale complete study. But this would non happen until 1994.

In 1986. nevertheless. the Gallic naval forces. in cooperation with La SOciete FRancaise d’Archeologie Sous-marine ( SOFRAS ) with support from Electricite de France ( EDF ) . salvaged the shipwrecks of Napoleon’s fleet in Abu-Qir Bay. Objects such as cannon. military costumes. utensils for day-to-day usage. and coins were salvaged from the site. However. except for the stray SOFRAS expedition and one or two other major events. the development of Egyptian maritime archaeology mostly remained inactive until April 1994. when the Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines ( CEA ) . directed by Jean-Yves Empereur. decided to finish the Pharos studies begun by Abul-Saadat and Frost. At the same clip. the Institute of Nautical Archeology ( INA ) established a lasting subdivision in Alexandria. under the way of its research associates Cheryl Ward and Douglas Haldane. INA besides established Egyptian Institute of Underwater Archeology in Alexandria.

Fortunately. merely the old twelvemonth. in 1993. the Egyptian archaeological and preservation organisation SCA ( Supreme Council of Antiquities ( SCA ) . once the Egyptian Antiquities Organization ( EAO ) stopped a undertaking adopted by the Egyptian Coasts Protection Agency to protect Fort Qaitbay from moving ridges and marine factors. The undertaking proposed throwing 2-ton concrete blocks of the garrison to weaken wave action and protect the fort’s walls. which would hold spelled catastrophe for 100s of submersed archaeological remains near the garrison.

In the autumn 1994. a squad of CEA archaeologists. in cooperation with the SCA. began an extended study to find the extent of the Pharos site. and the figure. size. and importance of the pieces. As with any archaeological site. plotting a elaborate. accurate map was a necessity. The cartography for Pharos has been an particularly ambitious undertaking. The field of ruins is one of the largest submerged archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. widening over 2. 25 hectares at a depth 6-18 m. Further. pieces frequently lie on top of one another in the sea H2O. To map the site efficaciously. the squad meticulously created a elaborate database. utilizing fresh methodological analysiss. Thankss to the computerized. methodical function of this portion of the seaport. Empereur and his squad have identified more than 2. 500 artefact of archaeological involvement scattered over a broad country. found along with hulls of Greek and Roman ships. as of 2002. Ruins of six monolithic giant. stand foring three twosomes of Ptolemy and his queen. which could hold stood at the base of the Pharos. are besides found here.

But it took backbreaking work to convey these archaeological hoarded wealths to visible radiation. In add-on to utilizing the traditional method of triangulation for mensurating the site. CEA team’s work depended on set uping a fixed Electronic Distance Measurement ( EDM ) utilizing an electronic transit on shore to descry the underwater blocks. which were indicated by a reflector mounted on a natation mast. The mast was connected to a lead line placed against the four corners of the submersed block and held in place by a frogman. Another frogman on the surface ensured that right tenseness was maintained and that the drifting mast did non travel excessively much. Depending on the sea conditions. this technique was accurate to between 1-30 centimeter. It was the exclusive option until anew acoustic system was developed in 2001 ( Martin. Shalaan. 2004 ) . Today’s adventurers are equipped with the latest engineering. such as sidescan echo sounder. gaussmeters. sub-bottom profiling and GPS. to assist them perforate the silt-laden enigmas of the yesteryear.

The high-tech epoch in fact commenced in 1992 when Franck Goddio and his Paris-based European Institute for Underwater Archaeology originally began to electronically map the Eastern Harbour. This work was the anchor of subsequently CEA study missions. In 1994. during Empereur’s extended studies. at the terminal of each twenty-four hours of submerged geographic expedition. information stored in the EDM’s memory was imported into computing machine and combines with triangulation and Global Positioning System ( GPS ) information to plot the overall site map. Partial charts were given to divers the undermentioned twenty-four hours to point them underwater and assist them add complementary characteristics of the blocks. This pioneering method has contributed tremendously to the advancement of the digging and could be applied to other submerged sites around the universe. However. this system is limited by the effects of the crestless wave. and could merely be employed near to the shore when the sea was unagitated.

During the first 14-months of plunging. 100s of artefacts were documented. from Pharaonic. papyriform columns. obelisks. sphinxes. and headers to an tremendous aggregation of Greco-Roman columns. capitals. bases. and statues in granite. quartize. diorite. basalt. and marble. Weights ranged from 100 kilograms to 75 dozenss. Forty pieces were salvaged and conserved and are now exhibited in the Roman Theater in Alexandria. This work was non merely backbreaking. but was besides unsafe in many ways — as documented by the PBS telecasting plan of 1997 on this subject:

As the frogmans begin to skin back the top bed of blocks. they’re on the look-out for rocks that can be linked to the beacon. Harmonizing to ancient histories. the frontage of the tower bore a dedication carved in big Grecian letters. But in their hunt for the lettering. the submerged investigators uncover some really different grounds. At first. it appears to be a headless king of beasts. But Egyptologists recognize the creature’s true individuality: it’s an ancient sphinx that one time had the caput of a adult male. The frogmans instantly start work to liberate the sphinx with the air-filled balloons. By now. the process should be everyday. but something goes incorrect. The four ton statue interruptions loose and falls to the ocean floor. hardly losing the frogmans.

Empereur concluded that the site contained blocks ( 90 per centum of which are granite ) that one time belonged to the beacon. and remains of some other edifices that existed on the island of Pharos. such as the temple of Isis Pharia. Most pieces were recycled from preexistent construction in the Nile Delta and Heliopolis. a metropolis near Cairo. There are clear marks of the application of Greco-Macedonian engineering to thoroughly Egyptian architectural stuffs. throwing light upon both architectural manners and building methods of the Pharos. Though the Greeks commissioned the Pharos. it is likely that it was non built in strictly Grecian manner but besides depended on Egyptian proficient expertness. Significant sums of statue stuffs discovered and grounds of other complete constructions underwater have led to the decision that Pharos was portion of a larger complex. Empereur and his squad are still in the procedure of patching together the scattered remains of what is about surely the Pharos beacon.

These submerged diggings are far from over. Every twelvemonth two runs of two months’ continuance each are carried out. The classifying of the 1000s of architectural blocks on the Pharos site is come oning. A few old ages ago. the designer Isabelle Hairy has been able to restructure the frame of a monumental room access made of Aswan granite that stood 11. 45 metres beneath the header. The jambs weighing more than 70 dozenss. the header. the slabs with flexible joint sockets for the dual panelled door all belonged to a mammoth memorial ; this was. it is conjectured. the room access to the Pharos itself. The CEA project’s chief and uninterrupted aims are to progress a clear hypothesis about the agreement of the site and to bring forth a computer-generated architectural Reconstruction of the edifices in the Pharos composite. In this procedure. it is hoped that more hints as to the beginning and devastation of the celebrated beacon of the ancient universe would emerge.


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