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Though it is probable that the lighthouse aided navigation for almost as long as people have sailed the sea, the golden age of the lighthouse came within only the last couple of hundred years. With technology advancing by leaps and bounds in the 19th and 20th centuries, ways of improving these lights of the coast (ways such as better, more easily replenished fuels and brilliant lenses) added tremendously to the mariner's ability to safely sail the margin between land and the open sea. Lighthouses have had a significant impact on civilization in a multitude of ways, including:

Prisms in a lighthouse lens