Egyptian City Found Underwater
1,200 years ago the ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion disappeared beneath the Mediterranean. Founded around 8th century BC, it is believed Heracleion served as the obligatory port of entry to Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world.
Prior to its discovery in 2000 by archaeologist Franck Goddio and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, no trace of Thonis-Heracleion had been found (the city was known to the Greeks as Thonis).
The IEASM were able to locate, map and excavate parts of the city of Thonis-Heracleion, which lies 6.5 kilometers off today’s coastline about 150 feet underwater in the western part of Aboukir Bay.
Findings to date include:
- The remains of more than 64 ships buried in the thick clay and sand that covers the sea bed
- Gold coins and weights made from bronze and stone
- Giant 16-ft statues along with hundreds of smaller statues of minor gods
- Slabs of stone inscribed in both ancient Greek and ancient Egyptian
- Dozens of small limestone sarcophagi believed to have once contained mummified animals
- Over 700 ancient anchors for ships
To figure out how the city was completely lost and submerged in the ocean, researchers have developed a number of ideas. Most scientists suggest that the site was affected by geological and cataclysmic phenomena, such as earthquakes, tidal waves and changes in sea level. Analysis of the site also suggests great pressure on the soil with a high clay and water content which can cause sudden submergence under the sea-level.
These factors, whether occurring together or independently, may have caused significant destruction and explain the submergence of Thonis-Heracleion.
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