Egypt: Ruins of a Sunken City - Herokleon, Egypt Antiquity News

Antiquity News for June 17th 2001

By Amargi Hillier

Ruins of a Sunken City

Recent news centers on the findings of the ruins of a sunken city in Abukeer, Alexandria, 7 kilometers away from the shore. A French team of archaeologists following the direction of the SCA had found a black granite stone carving almost 2 meters high and 80 cm wide. The stone has upon it hieroglyphs carved in 14 vertical columns. At the top of the carvings is the image of offerings to the Gods. What is interesting about this granite artifact is that it has a twin. The twin was discovered in the Kom Gaef, in the Delta in 1899. The twin is called Nefranisse and can be found in the Tahrir Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

The carvings upon the twin had revealed the location of the sunken city in this area called Herokleon. The city was named after the god Hercules. This citys port was the entrance of the Western Tributiry of the Nile, so it was considered a strategic area. The carvings also on the granite plate mentions the name Tkhetnibu I. These granite artifacts were placed at the entrances of seaports for taxation purposes. Passing ships entering the north of Egypt would pay a toll fee of sorts. It was learned from this particular plate that a tenth of the income from the Greek trading income was to be donated the Temple of Neth.

Dr. Gaballah Ali Gaballah, head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities, added that three statues were also recovered from the water made from pink granite. The statues were 5.5 meters high and were found 6 meters below the surface. One of the statues was of a pharaonic queen and this statue was 4.5 meters high. Also a statue for Habby, God of the Nile, was found.'

Archeologists said that these statues were all placed beside each other, which proves that they were originally situated in a temple. The French team also recovered five Sphinx statues, one of them found to be headless. They also found huge granite carvings covering an area of 6 meters square. Carved on this tremendous artifact are several cartouches representing Ptylemos, Cleopatra and King Amos from the 26th Dynasty. It is believed that this artifact was originally placed near the city temple and the plate it is now being studied to unravel its mystery.

Other statues were recovered from the water including a black basalt statue representing Horus. It is 60 cm high. Carvings were found on the statue but the glyphs are not clear. It is believed that this statue was found inside Hercules Temple. Also a statue of Isis was recovered and was made from black basalt which had broken into 5 pieces. After the pieces were gathered together again it stood 3 meters high. Also very rare coins were found amongst a heap of bronze coins. Some gold pieces from the time of Tutmose I were found including one which had the depiction of Alexandria the great riding a chariot driven by elephants. This coin is deemed extremely rare and it is only one of two such coins in the world.

The archaeological team also recovered a large amount of bronze utensils of various sizes all meticulously carved and stamped on it with emblems and/or initials. Seven bronze spoons were found. All these utensils suggest that inhabitants of the city lived in luxury.

The Minister of Culture agreed for a scan of the shores of Egypt which include the North Coast and the Red Sea shores in search of more sunken antiquities. Dr. Gaballah Ali Gaballah also added that there has been a lot of discoveries made in the past few years under the water so there is a possibility that more will be lying down below. He says, 'The richest of all areas for antiquities is two kilometer away from the shore in Alexandria. This area represents Minotis, the Eastern Province of Kanob City. Another prolific antiquity area is 6 km away from the shores of Alexandria called Heracleon. In these two areas numerous artifacts were found such as rare coins dating back to the Ptelomic era.'

Ground topography of an area 1000m x 800m shows the remnants of large buildings and ship vaults. 10 ships were discovered underwater. Scientists believe that this city was destroyed due to a strong earth quake.

Mr. Farouk Hosni, Minister of Culture, stated that a mobile museum shall tour parts of the world displaying these sunken antiquities. The financial gain will donated to the new Alexandria Library.