The Lighthouse -- From the sea, the Egyptian coastline looks like a flat land, devoid of hills that could be used as landmarks. One can imagine that before the age of coastal towns and GPS, it must have presented navigational challenges. That is, until Ptolemy II built a massive tower on a small island at the entrance to the Alexandria harbor.

One of the fabled Seven Wonders of the World, the Lighthouse of Alexandria was finished around 265 B.C., having been under construction for 15 years. Towering 152m (500 ft.), it was constructed in three sections starting with a square base and ending in a conical peak, which was topped off with a massive statue of Poseidon. Though it didn't acquire its light for another 3 centuries, it would have been visible for miles out to sea, offering pilots a point of reference as they made their way up and down the coast and into the harbor.

Skeptics question the lighthouse's place on the world wonders list (which was compiled in Alexandria), but the tower was undoubtedly ahead of its time. It's still not clear, though, how the light was made to shine (there's a theory that there were oil lamps whose light was shone out to sea by burnished metal reflectors), and there are even indications that it may have been equipped with some kind of telescope.

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The lighthouse stood for more than 1,500 years, collapsing after it was heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1303. The island on which it stood is now connected to the shore by a breakwater and is the site of the Qaitbey Fort.

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