Imagine a city lost in time, buried beneath the waves for centuries, and then rediscovered, its ancient marvels revealed to the world. Welcome to the captivating tale of Heracleion’s submerged city!
The Ancient Marvel: Unraveling the History
Heracleion, also known as Thonis, was an important Egyptian harbour city that has since been submerged. For over a millennium, it has been an essential hub for Egyptian trade and cultural interchange with other civilizations. Heracles, the great hero of Greek mythology, inspired the city’s naming, and it was once a thriving metropolis.
# 2 – Floor of the harbour
A City Carved in Gold: How Heracleion was Built and Developed
Heracleion was a marvel of ancient architecture and engineering. It was established in the eighth century BCE and rapidly grew into a major port. Temples, palaces, and sculptures abound in the city, reflecting the opulence of the Egyptian and Greek cultures that developed there.
# 3 – Temple, made of red granite
Heracleion’s strategic location at the entrance of the Nile River enabled it to control and tax the marine commerce entering Egypt, making it a wealthy and prominent city in the region. It expanded and gilded throughout time, symbolising wealth and international interaction.
# 4 – A treasure trove of bronze coins
# 5 – Votive boat and statuette of Osiris
Rediscovering the Lost City: An Astonishing Archaeological Journey
For centuries, the subterranean city of Heracleion existed only in myth and legend, concealed from the world. However, the determined efforts of archaeologists and underwater explorers paid off in the early 21st century when they discovered the sunken ruins lying silently beneath the Mediterranean Sea.
# 6.2 Colossal statue of a Ptolemaic king, carved from red granite
The religious significance of Heracleion was reflected in the city’s great temples to various gods. Numerous statues of gods, pharaohs, and other notable characters were uncovered during the underwater digs. These sculptures were made of diverse materials, including stone and metal, and displayed ancient civilisations’ artistic abilities.
# 7 – Bronze statuette of a pharaoh
# 7.1 – Osirian statuettes of gods and goddesses
# 7.2 – Dark Queen’ is a beautiful granodiorite statue of a Ptolemaic queen
Artefacts, including pottery, jewellery, and commonplace objects, have also been discovered, providing further insight into life in Heracleion.
# 8 – A treasure trove of jewellery
# 8.2 – Bronze plaques bearing a horizontal inscription of large hieroglyphs that read
However, maintaining underwater archaeological sites requires skill. These underwater gems are being threatened by both human activities and the harsh climate of the ocean. These sites must be respected, protected from plunder, and left untouched for future generations to discover and appreciate.
# 9.1 Christoph Gerigk/FrankGoddio/Hilti Foundation
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