Egyptian City Found Under The Sea After Being Lost For 1200 Years


Archaeological research reached a milestone in the year 2000, when the ancient Egyptian port city of Heracleion was discovered by an underwater archaeologist named Franck Goddio and his team.  Goddio, who was in search of a lost ship belonging to Napolean, accidentally discovered Heracleion, which has been a subject of great curiosity for archaeologists for several years. The Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and Department of Antiquities, Egypt soon accompanied Goddio on his subsequent trips to Heracleion.  This city was apparently inhabited in the 12th Century B.C and a home to Pharaohs, if ancient Greek legends are to be believed. It’s claimed that the city Heracleion had treasure in great abundance. Heracleion also boasted of an ancient temple where Cleopatra, a figure of great historic importance was declared the Queen.

Image Source ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Christoph Gerigk

According to ancient texts, Helen of Troy, who had eloped with her lover Paris, was stationed at Heracleion around the same time as the beginning of the Trojan War. Another theory states that the city got its name from the legendary Greek warrior Heracles or Hercules who stayed here for a short period of time. A trip to the ruins of this ancient city, located at Abu Qir Bay, led to many baffling discoveries. One such crucial finding was the numerous statues which were found on the ocean floor. Few prominent statues amongst these were that of God Hapi, an ancient Pharaoh, the guardians of an ancient Egyptian temple, and the Egyptian goddess Isis.   Other than these many smaller pieces of art were also found on the ocean bed.

Image Source ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, photo: Christoph Gerigk

However, the stronger evidence which proved the existence of Heracleion, and its great historical importance was that of the ruins of 64 battle ships and 700 anchors. The presence of wrecked ships on the ocean floor has been a subject of great debate amongst archaeologists and researchers. Many of these intellectuals have drawn a conclusion that the ships could have been drowned with an intention of preventing enemies from entering the port city. Heracleion is said to be the only spot on the globe where archaeologists have found the most number of ancient artifacts. Marine researchers have also found coins made of Gold, Lead, and Bronze at this site, which has led historians to believe that Heracleion played a great role in the economic growth of Egypt.

Though there is no strong evidence to prove the exact reason for the city to be engulfed by the sea, marine scientists are of the opinion that it could be caused due to natural catastrophe. One belief is that the rise in the sea levels had swallowed the unstable sediment which formed the base on which the city was constructed.  Another possibility which cannot be ruled out was a calamity such as an earthquake or a tidal wave. The fleet of ships, and artifacts found beneath the sea have led to another belief that the city could have been a victim of a natural disaster, which wiped it out completely.

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