Pharology… Need a Light?

“Anthropology, is that like…the study of Ants?”

I cannot count the number of times somebody has asked me what degree I graduated with and been ridiculed for choosing “Anthropology,” either for the vagueness of its title or ignorance regarding what an “anthropologist” does after 4-years at university. Even strangers I’ve sat next to on planes have said, “what is THAT?!” and then proceeded to talk about how their son or daughter is going to be a doctor, or a CEO, or a lawyer and how degrees in ‘medicine,’ ‘law’ or ‘business’ make sense from the minute you mention them. And of course, I let it all go in one ear and out the other, or roll my eyes at people’s sheer close-mindedness of the matter, but today I was put in my place by a new word:


So Pharology… is that like… the study of Pharaohs? like, from Egypt? Could it be a spin-off Egyptology which specializes in royal families? All I know is I don’t belong on any trivia game shows because Pharology is the study of Lighthouses. That’s right. L-I-G-H-T-H-O-U-S-E-S. I’m still too gobsmacked that a whole ‘-ology’ is dedicated to lighthouses to feel ashamed of my guesses.

Gloomy Day Lighthouse

Gloomy Day Lighthouse

Pharos is the Greek word for ‘lighthouse’ and the name of an ancient Greek lighthouse in Alexandria, one of the Wonders of the World. The definition of a lighthouse is actually more complex to come across than I assumed. The light of a lighthouse acts as a navigational aid, or a symbol of land ahead for sailors as opposed to sending warning messages or acting a cry for help like a watchtower or a beacon.

According to,  we have too little historical evidence to confirm to what extent early man began sailing the sea, let alone when a make-shift boat was made. Thor Heyerdahl in his book, Early Man and the Ocean, explains how the concept of the boat might have come about for mankind, first as a raft, followed by a sickle-shaped version with embellished sides to keep man dry. He demonstrates with straightforward diagrams and colourful description how the bipod-masted papyrus reed boat was surpassed by the hollow wooden-hulled ship around 3000 BC in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt (Heyerdahl 1978). Despite understanding how  these first water vessels were constructed, it is still unclear when they came to be so I imagine the same applies to the first ever light house as well.

Before signing off for today, I’d like to mention that while I am aware boats came long after humankind’s first traceable ancestors, I hope you agree that a doodle does not require a “true-or-false” analysis to become an amateur comic strip!

Early Man & his Boat?

Early Man & his Boat?


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