Ancient Sunken Cities Are Located after 2,500 Years, Pharaonic Towns Are Finally Found

The Florida Times Union, June 4, 2000 | Go to article overview

Ancient Sunken Cities Are Located after 2,500 Years, Pharaonic Towns Are Finally Found


ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- Archaeologists scouring the Mediterranean seabed said yesterday they have found the 2,500-year-old ruins of submerged Pharaonic cities that until now were known only through Greek tragedies, travelogues and legends.

Among the stunning discoveries at the sites -- where the cities of Herakleion, Canopus and Menouthis once stood -- are remarkably preserved houses, temples, port infrastructure and colossal statues that stand testimony to the citizens' luxuriant lifestyle, which some travelers had described as decadent.

This is the first time that historians have found physical evidence of the existence of the lost cities, which were famous not only for their riches and arts, but also for numerous temples dedicated to the gods Isis, Serapis and Osiris, making the region an important pilgrimage destination for various cults.

Herakleion, once a customs port where commerce flourished until the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C., was found in its entirety.

"We have an intact city, frozen in time," said French archaeologist Franck Goddio, who led the international team in the search.

The team worked for two years off this city on Egypt's northern coast in waters 20 to 30 feet deep, using modern technology, including the use of magnetic waves to map the area.

"It is the most exciting find in the history of marine archaeology. It has shown that land is not enough for Egyptian antiquities," said Gaballa Ali Gaballa, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, Egypt's top archaeology body.

At a news conference, underwater television footage of the site was shown to reporters. Some of the treasure also was on display -- a basalt head of a pharaoh, a bust of the curly haired and bearded god Serapis and a life-size headless black granite statue of the goddess Isis, sculpted as if wearing a diaphanous cloth held together by knots at her breast. …

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