Iconography of the lighthouse in Roman antiquity: Symbolism, identity and power across the mediterranean

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sailors and mariners in antiquity have often perceived night sailing as risky, full of dangers and particularly threats. The construction of permanent harbours across the Mediterranean in the Imperial period has gradually shifted the negative perceptions on the connections between waters and darkness. Lighthouses in this sense played a significant role in enlightening waters. However, rich iconographic and archaeological evidence from the Imperial period inform us not only about the canonic functions of these buildings but also about diverse perspectives. This evidence show how these buildings reflected hidden details about symbolism and identity as metaphoric expressions of power across the Mediterranean waters and beyond. Controlling and enlightening waters, as expressed in the valuable iconographic evidence, suggest Roman supremacy over waters and territories, commerces and trades. This new view on the relationships between waters and lighthouses therefore explores the symbolic function of these monumental buildings and their role in showing unrevealed and original aspects of Romans in controlling waters.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWater in the Roman World
Subtitle of host publicationEngineering, Trade, Religion and Daily Life
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781803273013
ISBN (Print)9781803273006
StatePublished - 11 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The authors and Archaeopress 2022. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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