The Pharos Lighthouse Of Alexandria – Second Sun And Seventh Wonder Of The Ancient World

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Compilation of the overall appearance of the statue based on Greek and Roman statuettes of the Sun-God and corresponding reconstruction of the 120m (393 ft) tall tower, designed by ©Andrew Michael Chugg

The Pharos Lighthouse Of Alexandria – Second Sun And Seventh Wonder Of The Ancient World

The Pharos lighthouse in Alexandria was constructed in the first two decades of the third century BC and it may have been nominated as one of the world’s Seven Wonders as early as the middle of the same century by the Alexandrian poet Callimachus in his book entitled A Collection of Wonders in the Whole World Organised by Place. Sadly, however, that wondrous work of literature is entirely lost and the earliest surviving manuscript to incorporate the Pharos among the Seven Wonders can only be traced back as far as the Gallic bishop, Gregory of Tours, writing in the sixth century AD. That makes it the last of the Wonders in the standard list to have been added, yet it was by no means the least: one can argue that it was the greatest.

Calamitous earthquakes in 1261 and 1303 seem to have been mainly responsible for the Pharos having almost entirely collapsed by the middle of the 14th century AD. The razing of the reality then led to a flowering of fantasy reconstructions over the ensuing centuries in the art and literature of the West. However, in 1909 Hermann Thiersch succeeded in re-instating some of the ancient evidence and produced the first modern reconstruction that bore any significant resemblance to the original structure.

Thiersch’s 1909 reconstruction of the Pharos with its pillared lantern and surrounding portico set in context at the mouth of the Great Harbor of Alexandria (Image: Courtesy Andrew Michael Chugg collection)

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