The hemidrachms struck under Domitian with their wonderful numismatic depictions of the Pharos are extremely rare. This superb example from regnal year 12 is the third known and finest specimen of the even rarer left facing portrait variant. Domitian Æ Hemidrachm, 12.15g Alexandria mint, 92-93 AD Obv: ΑΥΤ ΚΑΙϹ ΘƐΟ(Υ) ΥΙΟϹ ΔΟΜΙΤ ϹƐΒ ΓƐΡΜ; Head of Domitian, laureate, l. Rev: LΙΒ; Pharos RPC 2677. Emmett 273.12 (R3). Ex CNG eAuction 484, 27 January 2021, lot 559. The great lighthouse of Alexandria (or Pharos) was first depicted on the city's coinage during Domitian's reign. The structure was built on Pharos Island circa 300-283 BC under the Ptolemaic dynasty and was roughly 375 years old when these coins were struck. It was one of the most famous buildings in the ancient world and would later be considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World by early Medieval chroniclers. Standing at an estimated 300-450 ft. high it inspired awe and admiration from many Roman era writers including Strabo, Pliny, Josephus, and Lucian. Strabo records the Pharos was built of white stone and Pliny relates it cost nearly 800 talents to construct and that its light could sometimes be mistaken for a distant star on the horizon by mariners approaching the city. Josephus says the tower's shining light could be seen 34 miles away, a day's sale from Alexandria. Lucian took detailed measurements and described a building of three storeys - the bottom being square, the middle octagonal and the top circular with a total height of 436 feet (!). It was crowned by a 30 ft. statue of Zeus Soter or Poseidon which can clearly be seen on the coins. Sculptures of Tritons blowing conch shells adorned the octagonal section were used to represent each of the eight winds and can clearly be seen on the coins as well. In 1117 AD Al-Andalusi travelled to Alexandria and wrote 'the entrance to the Lighthouse is very high. It is accessed by a long 600 ft. ramp. This is based on a series of arches [...]'. This high doorway is also accurately depicted on the coins. Early in the second century Achilles Tatius of Alexandria poetically described the Pharos in his novel The Adventures of Leucippe and Clitophon as 'the most remarkable and extraordinary structure upon which it rested; it was like a mountain, almost reaching the clouds, in the middle of the sea. Below the building flowed the waters; it seemed to be as it were suspended above their surface, while at the top of this mountain rose a second sun to be a guide for ships'. The great Pharos was rendered inoperable and slowly destroyed by a series of earthquakes between 796 and 1323 AD. The coins, however, remain as a powerful testament to this most remarkable structure's enduring legacy. Ambition sighed: she found it vain to trust The faithless column and the crumbling bust; Huge moles, whose shadow stretched from shore to shore, Their ruins perished, and their place no more! Convinced, she now contracts her vast design, And all her triumphs shrink into a coin. - Alexander Pope, To Mr. Addison, Occasioned by his Dialogues on Medals II. 19-26 The coins also help in aiding historians to reimagine what this extraordinary lighthouse may have looked like. Needless to say I'm overjoyed to have finally acquired one of my dream coins! It even prompted a midwinter trip to my state's most famous lighthouse - Marblehead on Lake Erie. Marblehead is only 50 ft. in height. I can only imagine what the ancients thought of the Pharos's possible staggering 450 ft.! Feel free to post any 'dream coins' you wish to share.