Faro in Portugal has been linked with the Greek Pharos or lighthouse. Roger Coghill offers an ingenious theory on the origin of Faro’s name and connects it with Plato’s Atlantis. I have taken the liberty of quoting from his website(a) which is at least worth a read.
“That beacon is exactly what Faro (Pharos is Greek for lighthouse) I believe provided, at its location in the middle of that otherwise inhospitable coastline, exactly where Plato described it.
The question is, if this is right, how could such a primitive civilisation have provided a continuous lamp, bright enough to be seen thirty miles offshore in unsettled weather? (Further than 30 miles it would have been below the horizon. Sailing downwind in a real gale one has scarcely time to make a major course correction in thirty miles: you only have one chance!
I believe that the answer lies not on the coast, but inland of Faro, where there are the world’s largest and most ancient copper and zinc mines lying adjacent to each other, and have given rise to today’s commercial giant, the RTZ Corporation, which stands for Rio Tinto Zinc. The Rio Tinto flowing down to that part of the Atlantic coast is so called because of its alluvial copper. Any schoolboy today knows that you can make a voltaic battery quite capable of lighting any filament lamp by simply connecting copper to zinc.
The first schoolboy ever accidentally to discover this may plausibly have lived a little inland from modern Faro, since the two component materials were plentiful and to hand. It is my speculation that here in this fertile cradle of civilisation was first discovered the ability to make electrons flow and thereby create primitive electrical energy.
Plato helps us into this belief: he explains how the city was built as a city with three concentric rings, each ring being clad with a different metal and in the centre a beacon “shone like a torch”. It is important for scholars to note that the words Plato used are not those suggesting reflected light, as in a mirror, but of intrinsic light, self- generated. What Plato is describing then is a city built as a huge lighthouse and plausibly powered by the electrical current flowing between copper and zinc cladding, separated by huge walls.”
In 2006 Larry Radka(b) edited The Electric Mirror on the Pharos Lighthouse and Other Ancient Lighting, which according to one commentator is a reworking of a much older work. In it is the claim is made that the famous Pharos lighthouse was powered by electricity. All we have is a coincidence of names and alleged function combined with speculation, but no evidence at either site.
While Radka’s claim is rather extreme, Robert Temple in The Crystal Sun is more restrained where he refers to a 16th century account of a telescope at Pharos in the 3rd century BC, implying the existence at that early date of some optical technology and its possible use in the lighthouse there[928.128]. Temple’s entire book is devoted to proving that the science of optics is much older than generally accepted. When we consider the Antikythera Mechanism or the ‘Baghdad Battery’, it may be unwise to be too dismissive of Temple’s conclusions in this regard.
(a) http://www.cogreslab.co.uk/prehistory.asp currently (17/8/13) offline
Pharos in the Nile Delta has been suggested by R. McQuillen as the location of Atlantis. It should be noted that the cities of Canopus and Herakleon in the same area were submerged, apparently due to liquefaction, following an earthquake between 731 and 743 BC. If something similar occurred to Atlantis situated at Pharos it might explain the shoals of mud reported by Plato and may even have been the reason for the erection of the famous lighthouse there, completed around 280 BC.
This lighthouse at Pharos took 20 years to build and is reported to have been as much as 450 feet in height, topped with a statue of Poseidon (or Zeus). It is claimed that there was also a furnace on top which, according to Robert Temple , suggested that some form of mirror reflected light out to sea. There is evidence from early writers that nocturnal sea travel was commonplace, so some system of beacons to assist this, would have been a natural development.
In a study of ancient lighthouses (pharology) by Ken Threthewey(a) , he indicates that there were probably precursors to the Alexandrian edifice, but that there is no archaeological evidence to support this contention. One suggestion is that altars, temples and latterly Christian churches frequently situated at the end of promontories may have functioned initially as navigational aids, keeping in mind that early Mediterranean seafarers preferred coastal hugging to open sea travel. In fact, I would think it strange if such locations were not used for beacons.
*Massimo Rapisarda & Marcello Ranieri have now published a paper(f) pointing to possible land based navigational aids, most likely, Phoenician, at the Sicilian promontory of Capo Gallo.*
Threthewey, a leading pharologist, published Ancient Lighthouses  in 2018. Furthermore, he has also published a series of eight lengthy papers on pharology on the academia.edu website(e) .
Another paper by Marco Vigano also investigates the subject of proto-lighthouses(b), furthermore a book review by Terrance M.P. Duggan draws attention to the use of the word ‘pharos’ as far back as the Homer’s time, centuries before the Alexandrine structure was built(c). Duggan has also written a paper on The Missing Navigational Markers(d).
A recent book, The Electric Mirror on the Pharos Lighthouse, edited by Larry Brian Radka, argues spiritedly for the use of electricity at Pharos!