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The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria

Alexandria was a significant city of trade during the second to 4th centuries B. C. Named after the well known military leader, Alexander the Great, it was located on the western end of the Nile delta, next to the Mediterranean Sea. Following Alexander the Great’s death, Ptolemy, who took control of Egypt, chose to construct a lighthouse like no other. The end result earns its location among the 7 Marvels of the World. The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria makes its place amongst the Seven Wonders of the World due to the fact that of the engineering and building expertise required to make the tallest lighthouse, ever, in the world.

The dispute still rages on the actual height of the Lighthouse of Alexandria. One of the most affordable estimates is 384 feet. Even this low figure puts it at the second highest of perpetuity. 2 of the most credible accounts comes from Moorish travelers Idrisi and Yusuf Ibn al-Shaikh that mentions the lighthouse is 300 cubits high.

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This puts the range anywhere from 450 ft to 600 ft. This is because of the disparity in the real step of a cubit, which can vary from 17″ to 24″.

Due to the fact that of its geographical area and the time of the observation, it is logical to assume they were using the Egyptian Royal cubit, which has been maintained on ancient rulers determined in cubits. This cubit is roughly 20. 6 inches long, so that would make it 515 feet high, over 55 stories high. The only other lighthouse jockeying for the leading area is the Jeddah Light, in Saudi Arabia, at 438 feet.

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The reality that over 2 centuries ago these engineers and home builders were able to beat modern-day innovation reveals the Lighthouse at Alexandria is worthy of to be consisted of in the 7 Marvels.

Not just is it able to be the tallest lighthouse, but also highest of the 7 wonders of the world. The next highest is the Pyramids of Giza. These came in at 481 feet at their prime. However that accomplishment of height was not nearly as outstanding, though still remarkable. The Pyramids had a base 755 feet per side and an area of 570,025 square feet. The Lighthouse at Alexandria’s base was only 100 feet per side and a location of 10,000, under 2% of the size of the Pyramids. This was because of the advanced engineering used to develop the Lighthouse at Alexandria. This task was gifted to Sostratus, the head Designer on the project.

His design split the lighthouse into three sections. The lower most was a square base that is always put at 240 feet high. A 660 foot ramp connected it to the main land. The ramp connected part way up this first section. On top of the first tower there was an octagonal tower. And atop that was the final circular tower, which led to the fire and the bronze mirror used to direct the light. On top of it all was a statue of Poseidon, Greek God of the sea. There were doubts about whether this awesome design could really be built. Little is known about the actual building of the lighthouse.

It is known that it was built on the island of Pharos. This added on to the already daunting task because they had to transport the materials by ship. The lighthouse was made of heavy white marble blocks. Sostratus was proud and desired to have his name carved into the foundation. Ptolemy II refused because he wanted only his own name to be on the building. A clever man, Sostratus supposedly had the inscription, “Sostratus Son of Dexiphanes of Knidos on Behalf of All Mariners to the Savior Gods,” chiseled into the foundation, then had it covered with plaster.

Ptolemy’s name was carved into this plaster. Years after they were both dead the plaster chipped away, revealing Sostratus’ dedication. The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria earned its place on the list of the seven ancient wonders. Not only was it the tallest light house ever, it was also the tallest of the seven wonders. The engineering behind it is magnificent. Building it was a major challenge, back in 283 B. C. The Egyptians, just following the massive Macedonian empire, had a massive task. They delivered one of the best Wonders the World.

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The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria. (2016, Sep 13). Retrieved from

The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria

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