Foros lighthouse

Foros lighthouse

Alexander the Great, conquering the world, laid many cities. He founded Alexandria at Issus, Alexandria on the Tigris, Alexandria of the Caucasus, Alexandria Krainyu (modern city of Leninabad), Alexandria Arian (present Herat) and many others, and in 332 BC. e. and Alexandria of Egypt.

Today’s Alexandria has more than two million inhabitants, it stretches for 25 kilometers along the sand spit, which once cut the sea bay, forming a large salt lake. But modern Alexandria has very different outlines. In the north-west, where the elongated peninsula is now located with a densely populated Arab quarter and the magnificent Abu al-Abbas mosque, in ancient times there was a sea, more precisely, two sea piers – the Grand Quay and the dock of Happy Return. From the sea they covered

the rocky island of Faros, which served as a natural pier.

At the time of the first Ptolemies, a lighthouse was built on the island of Pharos, according to ancient and medieval authors, it was higher than the highest pyramid. But at the time when he was visited by Strabo, the lighthouse was no longer very different from other structures. It was half destroyed. Its highest part collapsed, and its debris lay near the tower, which was covered with a temporary wooden roof, “and several guards lived in it.”

The construction of lighthouses began in ancient times and is associated with the development of navigation. At first it was just fires, located on high banks, and then artificial structures. The Alexandria lighthouse was built in 283 BC. e. The construction of this giant structure lasted only five years.

The lighthouse had a height of 180 meters from the bottom to the top. Such a calculation was made on the basis of the testimonies of the historian Josephus Flavius. According to other descriptions, his height was 120 meters, Ibn al-Sayha (XI century) calls the figure of 130-140 meters. According to modern experts, from a purely practical point of view, such a height was superfluous, even if one takes into account that the ancient lighthouses should be higher due to the weakness of their fire. The greatest

European lighthouse at the mouth of the Garonne near Bordeaux is 59 meters above sea level. The Romans built it, taking as a model a lighthouse on the island of Pharos. In its original form it was preserved until the XVI century, then it was rebuilt. The lighthouse at Cape Hatteras has a height of 58 meters, the lighthouse on the coral reefs of Florida – 48 meters. None of the modern lighthouses reach the height of Alexandria.

The Ptolemies built this fantastic skyscraper on a rock not only for practical purposes. First of all, the beacon was a symbol of the power of their empire, a symbol of wealth and greatness, like light in darkness. This structure had a base in the form of a square with sides 180-190 meters (other sources give other figures). On this basis stood a large palace with four towers in the corners. From its center rose a massive quadrangular tower 70-80 meters high, which gradually narrowed, ending with prongs.

On this tower stood one more, narrower, but also quite high, which ended with a stone platform. On this site, around the circle stood columns supporting a cone-shaped tower, which was crowned with a statue of the patron of the seas of Poseidon, 8 meters high.

At the top of the third tower in a bulky bronze bowl, a light was lit, the reflection of which, with the help of a complex system of mirrors, was visible for 100 miles. Through the entire lighthouse passed a shaft around which a spiral rose ramp and staircase.

On the wide and sloping ramp to the top of the lighthouse drove carts, harnessed by donkeys. The mine was supplied with fuel for the lighthouse.

A high beacon served as an observation post. A sophisticated reflector system was also used to survey the vastness of the sea, making it possible to detect enemy ships long before they appeared near the shore.

This structure, as well as the pyramids, arose from the sweat and labor of slaves, and during the construction of it, the whores of the overseers also whistled. But he had two principal differences. First, the lighthouse on the island of Faros brought “public benefit.” Secondly, in those times when this last miracle of the ancient world was created, the technique reached considerable heights. The propeller and the archipellet of Archimedes, lifting devices, various construction tools were already known. The main building materials for the lighthouse were limestone, marble, granite.

The construction was led by the famous Greek architect Sostratus Cnidsky. At the end of the works, Sostratus carved an inscription on the stone of the structure: “The son of Dexifan Sostratus is to the guardian gods, for the benefit of the floating.” This inscription Sostratus covered with cement and from above indicated the name of Ptolemy Soter, who ruled at that time. Soon the cement crumbled, and everyone saw the first inscription. Posidipp, a contemporary of Sostratus, sang it in verse, which survived the lighthouse and brought to us the name of its creator.

And this name was widely known in the ancient world. Modern scientists have established that there were several structures like the “hanging gardens” of the Semiramis, and one of them is the “hanging promenade” on the island of Knid. The architect and engineer was Sostratus. He is credited with another engineering structure: during the fighting for Memphis, he allegedly took the waters of the Nile to capture the city.

Alexandria lighthouse stood for 1500 years, helping to navigate the Mediterranean “cybernetos”, so called the helmsmen of the ancient Greeks. The lighthouse suffered from earthquakes and weathering of the stone, but it was restored in the time of the emperors Claudius and Nero. His fire was permanently extinguished during the earthquake in the IV century. In the time of the Arabian rule in the middle of the 7th century it served only as a daylight beacon. In the time of the first Mamluk sultans (mid-13th century), the mainland was so close to the island that the pier drifted with sand and it was no longer needed as a daylight. At the very beginning of the XIV century it was dismantled on stones, and on the ruins of the lighthouse a medieval fortress was erected.

In the 1960s, during the study of coastal waters, an unknown Italian diver, sinking to a shallow depth near the fortress of the Sultan, found two marble columns. During further work from the bottom, a statue of the goddess Isis Faros was raised, which once stood in a nearby church. In 1980, a group of archaeologists discovered on the seabed the remains of the Faros Lighthouse. Then, at a depth of 8 meters, the ruins of the palace of the legendary Queen Cleopatra were discovered.


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Foros lighthouse