An ancient Egyptian city found 6.5 km off of modern Egypt’s coastline reveals fascinating relics of Heracleion, also known as Thonis. The city’s ruins are located in Abu Qir Bay, originally existing near Alexandria, 2.5 km off the coast. Heracleion’s ruins span an area that is 11km by 15km – deservedly so considering the classical tale of Heracleion which was said to be a prosperous, brilliant, thriving city before it was engulfed by the sea around 1,500 years ago.
The ruins were first discovered by Franck Goddio using his unique survey-based approach that utilizes the most sophisticated technical equipment. In cooperation with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, Oxford’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Department of Antiquities of Egypt, Franck was able to locate, map and excavate several parts of the city.
Franck’s discovery accomplished many things including uncovering important information about the ancient landmarks of Thonis-Heracleion, such as the grand temple of Amun and his son Khonsou (Herakles for the Greeks), the harbours that once controlled all trade into Egypt, and the daily life of its inhabitants. Through his discovery he was able to solve a historic enigma that has baffled Egyptologists for years, that Heracleion and Thonis were actually the same city with two different names.
As you will see in the pictures, the relics recovered from the excavations boldly reveal the cities’ beauty and glory before it was buried by water. Anything from colossal statues, inscriptions and architectural elements, jewellery and coins, ritual objects and ceramics, were found and each reveals the opulence Heracleion experienced during its time. Many of the finds illustrate how crucial this city was to the ancient world economy. This is also seen by the huge amount of gold coins and bronze, lead and stone weights used to measure value of goods in ancient times. The importance of Heracleion has also been proved by the discovery of 64 ships, which is the largest number of ancient vessels ever found in one place. Along with these ships, a mind-boggling 700 anchors were found on the ocean floor.
The discoveries include a huge statue of the god Hapi, a statue of the classic Egyptian goddess Isis, a head of an unidentified Pharaoh and a number of smaller statues of Egyptian gods, figures and queens. Interestingly, dozens of sarcophagi containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb were found. According to Egyptian history, Amun-Gereb is the supreme god of the Egyptians.
While it may not be the discovery of the coveted Atlantis, this discovery certainly has its own profoundness and beauty.
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