For 200 years, archaeologists and treasure hunters have churned up the sand of Egypt to unearth the mysteries of the pharaohs. But there are entire cities submerged under water.
The city of Thonis-Heracleion, also called Thonis or Heracleion, because it is not yet known whether it was one or two cities, sank under water due to an earthquake, 2,300 years ago. It remained missing for two millennia, until It was discovered by French archaeologist Franck Goddio in 2000..
Thonis-Heracleion is in the news because it was discovered two weeks ago a temple to the god Amun and a Greek sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite, as well as Egyptian and Greek treasures, including weapons. This is a representation of what the city was like, at its peak::
Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation
The origin of Heracleion merges with legendas it is said to have been visited by Helen of Troy, and even by Zeus’s son, Heracles (Hercules), after whom it took its name.
Heracleion should not be confused with Heraklion, which is the capital of Crete.
A submerged city rescued from oblivion
Heracleion appears mentioned in numerous writings by ancient historians and geographers, the chroniclers of the time. Reference is made to it by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, and the great Herodotus, among others.
Its origin is lost until the 12th century BC, but what is known is that it reached its peak around the 4th century BC, when It became Egypt’s first international portand the one that collected the most taxes.
The city was built in the Nile delta, it is the mouth of the river, where it merges with the sea. And that was her downfall. It rested on the silt (sediment) of the river, but around the 3rd century BC, landslides, possibly caused by an earthquake, caused the city to sink.
Heracleion remained lost for more than 2,000 yearsuntil the year 2000 when the best-known underwater archaeologist, the Frenchman Franck Goddio, found it 2.5 kilometers from the coast, and 10 meters deep:
Christoph Gerigk / Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation
During these 20 years, numerous statues, tablets, coins, and countless treasures have been recovered, which are now exhibited in the museums of Egypt.
Thonis-Heracleion has been in the news again these days, since the European Institute of Underwater Archeology, where Goddio works, announced on September 19 the discovery of the site of a temple to the god Amun and a Greek sanctuary dedicated to Aphroditealong with important Egyptian and Greek archaeological remains.
Ancient Egypt continues to surprise us in many different ways. Wonders are still being found under the sand, but a city submerged under water can be more valuable, because he has remained safe from thieves and hunts for treasure.