History September 24, 2019 at 11:29 am

A look at the ancient temple found in Egypt’s lost underwater city where Cleopatra was crowned

Theodora Aidoo | Staff Writer

Theodora Aidoo September 24, 2019 at 11:29 am

September 24, 2019 at 11:29 am | History

Pic Credit: The Vintage News

Egyptian and European archaeologists recently found remains of a large temple and some ships with treasure such as coins and jewellery under the sea, off the coast of the Nile Delta, Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities said.

This came to light following the efforts of the Egyptian-European archaeological mission of the European Institute of Marine Archeology to complete the archaeological season at the site of the ruins of the two ancient cities of Canopus and Heracleion in Abu Qir Bay in Alexandria.

Divers were swimming through Heracleion, the ancient Egyptian city that’s now underwater when they discovered a trove of artefacts that included the remains of the temple.

Since its discovery in 2000, Heracleion, otherwise known as Thonis, is reported to have been a busy city which got its name from the legendary Hercules who was believed to have visited the city in ancient days.

Ruins of temple were discovered in the now-underwater ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion. Pic Credit: Christoph Gerigk/Hilti Foundation/Egypt Ministry of Antiquities)

Sitting on the edge of the Nile River, next to the Mediterranean, Heracleion was built around the eighth century B.C.

About 1,500 years ago, it flooded, and now the city sits under about 150 feet of water, Live Science states. 

Head of the Central Department of Antiquities, Ehab Fahmi, said in a statement that all the marine research work was carried out using the SSPI, the latest cross-sectional surveying device, which transmits images of archaeological evidence.

The city was likely inhabited between the fourth century BC and the Islamic era, he added.

 “The mission had uncovered part of a destroyed temple inside the southern canal; it is the main temple of the city (Amun Jerb), in addition to many pottery stocking and tableware from the 3rd and 2nd century BC, bronze coins from the reign of Ptolemy the Second, and parts of periodic pillars, which remained kept three meters deep from the silt within the seabed as well as the remains of a smaller Greek temple within the silt of the canal. 

“The site survey using SSPI resulted in another extension of the port of Heraklion, which consists of a group of ports that were not previously known,” Head of missions, Franck Goddio, explained.

Lead Archeologist, Franck Goddio, described the discovery recovered from the excavations as the “cities’ beauty and glory, the magnificence of their grand temples and the abundance of historic evidence: colossal statues, inscriptions and architectural elements, jewellery and coins, ritual objects and ceramics – a civilization frozen in time”.

According to him, the quantity and quality of the archaeological material excavated from the site of Thonis-Heracleion show that this city had known a time of opulence and had witnessed a peak in its occupation from the 6th to the 4th century BC. 

Archaeologists also found the missing part of a ceremonial boat that was discovered on a previous excavation. Further discoveries, which included coins from the Ptolemaic and Byzantine eras, plus rings and earrings from Ptolemaic times, were made at Canopus, another nearby submerged city. 

All the findings are currently being studied in preparation for a scientific publication, said Fahmi.

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