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Seventeenth Annual Graduate Student Colloquium, Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, March 23, 2011.

Light My Fire: And Overview, Typology, and Analysis of Erotic Roman Lamps | Dreaming of Amor: Ovid's Error in Epistulae ex Ponto 3.3 | Can you hear me now? Rome's Nocturnal Soundscape | Dueling Dreamers: Divine Dreams as Propaganda During the Second Punic War | A Light in the Dark: Redefining the Function of the Lighthouses in the Adriatic Sea During the Roman Age, in Light of the Archaeological Research | Counteracting Night's Song: Image, Sound, and Theology in Iliad 5 |

A Light in the Dark: Redefining the Function of the Lighthouses in the Adriatic Sea During the Roman Age, in Light of the Archaeological Research

Federico Ugolini, Department of Classics, King's College London
 

        During the Ancient time Adriatic sea was one of the wealthiest maritime communities in the Roman world and the presence of lighthouses was well-evidenced and attested. In this area, the illumination system and visibility during the night not only captured the imagination of Greek and Roman writers such as Strabo, Suetonius, Pliny, Caesar, but also enabled sea-mariners and fishermen's to practice the seamanships and the fishing activities in the dark. While this magnificent and monumental structure has been a subject of continuous scholarly attention and debate, little is know about its realization and functionality. My conference paper offers a more defined picture of the function of the lighthouses in the antiquity with the help of the rare but important and thus far understudied archeological, epigraphical and iconographic evidence remaining on the Adriatic sea area. The first part will analyse the development of the lighthouse: architecture, construction material and topographic localization in Adriatic Sea. Indeed though the wealth of the sea-lighthouse diminished after the Roman time, the structure still enjoyed a certain prosperity, as is evident in the monument and recovered by excavations or discovered as re-used materials in the development of coastal towers. The second part of my paper will identify illumination system, visibility distance, fuels adopted and how the light projected from the lantern to allow it to be visible from a distance from the sea-fisherman. It pays particularly attention to its function of navigational aid, as certain aspects of its presence allow us to insert the lighthouse in the investigation of the theme of the night and the nocturnal activities in the Ancient world.