In the center of the terrace of this first floor, the building was prolonged, but with an octagonal shape [ This second floor was higher than the first. On entering we saw a staircase which consisted of eighteen steps, and we debouched in the center of the second terrace. The building was still prolonged in a cylindrical form [ We entered and ascended thirty-one steps to reach the third floor, the height of which we measured with our rope: 7.
On the terrace of this third floor, there was a mosque with four doors and a dome.
Egypt's Lost Wonders
Learn more about Dimensions of the lighthouse. The lighthouse of Alexandria is a monolithic building that measured m high.
It was on 3 floors: On the ground, a heavy square building, on which was built another octagonal building. At the top, the third floor was cylindrical. This form with three levels is found in other lighthouses of the Greek Empire, that of Taposiris Magna is an example. The access door was fairly high in relation to the ground, so the lighthouse had an access ramp on the first floor, a ramp which was mounted on sixteen impressive arches.
But here it was useless to defend access to the lighthouse, the ramp was therefore hard, not removable. The first floor was built on a platform about ten meters high, it was pyramidal and square. The building itself was hollow and contained an access ramp on the second floor and about fifty rooms, so it was a real urban complex, not at all a simple block of solid retaining stone. These various rooms were used for the service of the lighthouse. There were rooms for the staff who kept the fire at the top, others for storing wood for its food. The ramp was wide and allowed the passage of oxen to carry the wood towards the top of the lighthouse, it was illuminated by a series of windows, small and long, arranged along the ramp and thus, outwardly offset compared to others.
This part of the lighthouse was 71m high and at its summit was a terrace equipped with a high railing of 2,30m and carved Tritons blowing in horns, a means of preventing accidents at sea. The second floor was 34m high, about half the first. It was octagonal in shape and as for the first floor it was hollow, but unlike it it was equipped with an internal staircase, not a ramp. It must be said that at this level the lighthouse was too narrow to make a ramp, so it was at the top of the first floor that the beasts of burden climbed the wood to burn at the top, for the rest of the trip, it had to be done by hand.
The third floor was the lowest, only 9m.
Engineering the 7 Wonders of the World: Lighthouse of Alexandria | The Short Sleeve Club
It had a cylindrical shape and was equipped with an internal staircase. At the top of the lighthouse there was a statue of Zeus, it is known that it was installed there during the first half of the third century BC. But the different representations of this statue through time leaves a doubt about its replacement during the following centuries.
An object found in Asia Minor and representing the lighthouse shows us a statue with a boat oar, which would identify it with Poseidon, the Roman God.
It could be credible for two reasons. If it is true that ancient history tells us that Egypt was a province of the Roman Empire, it is not unusual to find a Roman God at the top of the most emblematic tower of Alexandria.
But this proposition is not really valid, as the Romans only conquered Egypt three centuries later 30 years BC. What is more, we find an intaglio hard stone engraved in hollow of the first century AD which shows Zeus on the lighthouse, proof that the statue would have remained in its place during 4 centuries. How to be sure of the chronology of the statues set up at this summit? Difficult because the Roman Empire having banished all pagan representations from , but in a witness assures that there was a statue of Helios at the top of the lighthouse.
Yet the Roman Empire was already Christian, and it seems normal that at this site a statue of Christ should have been implanted. Note however that there were other statues on the lighthouse, along its base. Some have been found recently, they have been taken out of the waters of the port. One of them would be Queen Berenice represented in Isis with her husband represented in Pharaoh.
Isis was a glorified goddess on the island of Pharos, as was Poseidon. Little information has been received on the operation of the lighthouse, but there is not much to discover, obviously. The fire was lit on the highest part, the one on which there was the statue. It was important, visibly powerful, and it was maintained day and night. In the daytime, it was the smoke which directed the boats, at night it was the brilliance. It appears that the lighthouse of Alexandria was visible to 50Kms in the round. In order to feed it, a large quantity of wood had to be stored in the first floor of the tower.
A ramp, as indicated in the description, was the inner circle. Oxen were able to circulate there, stepping the trunks regularly for storage. The suite had to be done manually, the stairs becoming too narrow for the beasts of burden. In the course of time it is possible to switch to other fuels, especially oil. Some sources indicate that the lighthouse was equipped with reflective mirrors to increase its visibility, it seems to be false.
In any case, it is not credible, in the current state of knowledge. It is difficult to follow the lighthouse in time, because the testimonies of this period are missing. It is known that the Emperor Anastasius I had renovations of the submerged subsoil to a certain Ammonios. In the French bishop Aroulfe explains in a document the role of the tower of Pharus, its operation, and the reason why it is important to enter safely in the port. He takes the opportunity to point out that the island is surrounded by pious massifs intended to support the banks.
Lighthouse of Alexandria | Seven Wonders of the World | Ancient Wonders
The lighthouse of Alexandria, built at one time, has obviously not undergone any major changes during its existence. In fact, the modifications were essentially natural. It was an earthquake that destroyed the third floor of the lighthouse during the tenth century. Lying on the ground, the summit was never rebuilt. In his place the sultan Ahmed Ibn Tulun, who ruled the city, had an oratory built, giving the lighthouse a mosque role and in the process, it was the highest mosque in the world.
If you observe the minaret that this sultan built in Cairo, you will find that it follows the same architectural form as the lighthouse of Alexandria: Square at the bottom, octagonal at the center and cylindrical at the top. In a second earthquake struck him again, more violently. If one believes a writing preserved in Montpellier Cartular of Montpellier , the exact date of the shake is the 8 of August.
The Lighthouse of Alexandria
In the year , on the 8th of August, there was a great earthquake in Alexandria, which caused the lighthouse to fall, and the third part of the town to fall. But the destruction does not seem to have been complete since Ibn Battuta was still able to describe the lighthouse in April Having gone to the Lighthouse on my return from the Maghrib in the year , I observed that its state of disrepair was such that it was no longer possible to enter it, nor to reach the door giving access to it.
It was only at the end of the 15th century that the lighthouse of Alexandria, or rather what remained of it, was completely dismantled. The stones were then used for the construction of Fort Qaitbay, which guards the entrance of the port of the city still today. If there are not enough texts explaining how the lighthouse was built and how it went through the centuries, we still have some information thanks to interesting testimonials.
As stated above In the French bishop Aroulfe made a description of the site, it is very old. In it was an official in Egypt, a Bagdadi, who made another similar description. The lighthouse was then always used daily. Ali al-Mas'udi, who was born in Baghdad and died in Cairo around , was an Arab historian and geographer. Witness to the slow disappearance of Alexandria due to the various seismic shocks as well as to the subsidence of ground, it describes precisely the damages caused.
His narrative gives details of the state of the lighthouse, which is already partly in ruins. The testimony of Abu al-Haggag Yusuf Ibn Muhammad al-Balawi al-Andalusi is interesting because it dates from the twelfth century, so it is done shortly before the severe destruction of the lighthouse and sufficiently late to be us without too much deformation. He describes the access ramp, the high door, the general shape of the lighthouse.
In the fourteenth century it was Ibn Battuta who took up a similar description, two centuries later. Learn more about History of the lighthouse. Why did the lighthouse of Alexandria disappear?
In fact it's quite simple, it has undergone two events. First of all it was abandoned and without maintenance, it is found in the 10th century heavily degraded after an earthquake dropped the 3rd floor. He could no longer serve at that time, and it was a long time ago that he was no longer serving. The lighthouse could have been repaired and consolidated but the Arab civilization of the early Muslim times did not have the magnitude of the previous civilization, so it was impossible for them to correct it.
This period lasted until the end of the fifteenth century, when it was so degraded that it was demolished. The stones were recovered and used for the construction of the Qaitbay which guards the entrance of the port of the city still today. So it was at the end of the 15th century that we lost all hope of reviving the lighthouse of Alexandria. In the port of Alexandria there are vestiges of the lighthouse, the stones that had been damaged in the sea without being able to easily ascend them. Diverse archaeologists work regularly on this site. For a long time it has been known that vestiges of the lighthouse must be immersed at the bottom of the port of Alexandria, but it was not until the modern period that we thought of making real archaeological explorations.
The first underwater excavations took place in , but they were quickly stopped. They resumed between and under the responsibility of a Frenchman, Jean-Yves Empereur, and through the Center d'Etudes Alexandrines. These explorations made it possible to identify many submerged blocks as well as various statues that were brought up to the surface, in particular a Ptolemy I in Pharaoh and Isis. Learn more about the underwater exclavations. Of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the lighthouse of Alexandria is probably the one with the most written traces - except for the pyramid of Cheops, of course.
But in Alexandria, his memory is even more vivid. The city has a logo that represents it, of course, as well as the University of the city. Such modern representations are interesting because they show the attachment of the Alexandrians to their heritage, even disappeared, but nothing will be worth the interest of the representations of time on various supports, in the course of time.