Lighthouses of Antiquity: Summary

The location of the first lighthouse in history has been the subject of much speculation over the years. Whilst the Pharos of Alexandria was one of the earliest, and certainly the most wonderful, it is commonly accepted that the idea behind the building of structures to assist nocturnal navigation was already widespread by the time of the Pharos. The absence of substantive evidence in support of a solution to the problem has meant that few pharologists in the twentieth century have seriously studied the matter. From the present perspective at the beginning of the 21st century, and with the benefit of the most recent archaeological evidence, it would seem a good moment to survey the information now available.

This series of pages is derived from a recent extended study that will be published in 2018 as Pharology: Ancient Lighthouses by Ken Trethewey. It seems most likely that the idea of using lights to aid navigation was embedded in humans from a time tens of thousands of years ago, but was very much part of the practices of religious worship. Although there is some evidence that small, simple towers were used at the entrance to ports and harbours, the first important structure that was used in the way we now expect of lighthouses was, indeed, the Pharos of Alexandria.