The Lighthouse of Alexandria
Waters could easily turn hostile, weather could become treacherous, deadly submerged rocks could easily tear through the ship’s hull. Navigational aids did not exist at that time. By day marines followed visible land marks by night they relied on the stars.
what sailors feared most was the flat and undistinguished coast line of northern Egypt . Perilous current and invisible sand banks were death trap for the unwary. Many ships and many lives were lost. The perfect place to build a light house, the lighthouse of Alexandria the greatest lighthouse of the ancient world that would save countless lives and ships for centuries.
Nothing of the structure remains today but the city’s kite bay fortress stands on what is believed to be the foundations of the light house the most powerful artificial light of the ancient world.
The lighthouse of Alexandria not only warned ships away from the dangerous cost line but was a welcome beacon for wary travellers. It was a symbol of promise, safety and survival it stood guard outside the busy port of Alexandria the worlds first city of more than a million inhabitants.
Construction and architecture of the light house of Alexandria
The lighthouse was built by Sostratus of Knidos (or Cnidus) for Ptolemy I Soter the then ruler of Egypt, and was finished during the reign of Soter’s son Ptolemy II, from 297 to 283 BC.
Constructed of white marble marble blocks cemented together with lead mortar the lighthouse towered 440 feet or over 30 storied high enclosing an extensive interior of carters ramps and stair ways it wan an unmistakable landmark.
By day mirrors reflected sunlight from top of the tower. by night however the light house became a true wounder to be behold. A flame was light producing a beam of light of extraordinary power.
It had three levels: the lover level was a square shaped strong core to provide support, the centre level was octagonal in shape, and a circular level on top.
At the peak of the lighthouse was a large curved mirror,perhaps made of polished bronze, that reflected the light of the sun at day, and project the fire’s light into a beam at night.
Historians also suggest the mirrors were also used as a weapon to set enemy ships ablaze by reflecting the light of the sun into a strong beam.
Destruction of the lighthouse of Alexandria
Though it is no longer standing, the Lighthouse of Alexandria did stand for almost 1,500 years outliving the Greek and Roman empires. Then absorbed into the Arab Empire.
During the medieval period Egypt had expericenced devastating earthquakes which caused lot of damage to the light house weakning the massive structure.
Old records indicate the final collapse occurred in 1375 due to an earthquake, ruins remained on the site for until 1480 when much of the building’s stone was used to construct a fortress on the island that still stands today while others fell into the ocean.