University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Great Wonders: The Lighthouse at Alexandria: The Pharos in the land of the Pharaoh


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Film Description:Lecture given by Jennifer Houser Wegner, Ph.D., Associate Curator, Egyptian Section. Founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, the city of Alexandria grew to become one of the most important cities in the ancient world. Alexandria was a hub of intellectual, commercial, political and religious activity, and its Mediterranean harbors were bustling centers of activity. The Lighthouse at Alexandria, or the Pharos, marked the entry into the harbor from the sea. The Pharos was constructed on the orders of the early Ptolemaic kings around 280 BCE. For most of its history, this remarkable building was one of the tallest man-made structures on earth. Writers as varied as Julius Caesar and the Arab traveler Abou Haggag Youssef Ibn Mohammed el-Balawi el-Andaloussias, describe this illuminated tower whose image also appears on coinage and mosaics. After a series of earthquakes damaged the tower, it was finally destroyed in the 14th century CE, having served as an iconic image of the city of Alexandria for almost 1500 years. Recent underwater excavations by French archaeologists have identified remains of the original structure in Alexandria's eastern harbor. This talk will consider the history of the lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Video Category:Lecture
Video Date:03/04/2015
Contributor: Jennifer Wegner
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