Archaeologists claim that an ancient lighthouse located in the ancient city of Patara on Antalya's Mediterranean coast might have been destroyed by a tsunami that hit the region in ancient times.
The ruins of the lighthouse were discovered two years ago during excavations that are still under way in Patara.
Professor Havva Iskan Isik, head of Akdeniz University's archaeology department, which is conducting studies in the ancient city, said they believed the lighthouse was destroyed by a tsunami since a human skeleton was found among the ruins.
Isik said the skeleton could belong to a lighthouse keeper who was trying to escape a tsunami but was crushed under the lighthouse's stone blocks.
The excavations in Patara are proceeding under the supervision of Professor Fahri Isik, a lecturer at Akdeniz University. His wife, Havva Isik, indicated they had come across the skeleton under a mountain of sand.
Noting that they had unearthed what they believe is the oldest lighthouse in the world, Havva Isik said a bronze inscription the team discovered indicated that the lighthouse was built by the Roman Emperor Nero between A.D. 64 and 65.
"Likewise, the structural characteristics of the lighthouse demonstrate that it is the oldest lighthouse in the world. Our impressions support the idea that it was destroyed not by an earthquake but by a tsunami. The skeleton we found in the doorway to the lighthouse also points to this idea. Stone blocks resting on top off the skeleton indicate his struggle to get away just before the disaster struck. I believe this skeleton belongs to the lighthouse keeper," said Isik.
However, Isik says they believe only the lighthouse was destroyed during the tsunami. "We found no other traces of tsunami damage to other structures," she said.
Isik also said there was one more lighthouse in Patara according to an inscription they found to the east of the city.
Of course, the Pharos of Alexandria is older (and I don't think we have any remains of Claudius' lighthouse from Ostia) ... I don't think this lighthouse of Nero is mentioned in any of the usual ancient sources ... please correct me if I'm wrong.
Posted by david meadows on Jan-02-06 at 12:23 AM
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