In old English the word landmearc (from land + mearc (mark)) was used to describe an "object set up to mark the boundaries of a kingdom, estate, etc.". Starting from approx. 1560, this understanding of landmark was replaced by a more general one. A landmark became a "conspicuous object in a landscape". A landmark literally meant a geographic feature used by explorers and others to find their way back or through an area. For example, the Table Mountain near Cape Town, South Africa is used as the landmark to help sailors to navigate around southern tip of Africa during the Age of Exploration. Artificial structures are also sometimes built to assist sailors in naval navigation. The Lighthouse of Alexandria and Colossus of Rhodes are ancient structures built to lead ships to the port.

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