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Ancient shipwreck found in sunken port of Heracleion

At an archaeological site located in Egypt’s sunken port of Heracleion, a group of divers discovered the wreck of an ancient ship from Ptolemaic times. Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have located the wreck of an ancient warship. According to the information he released, the ship sank covered by stone blocks from the
Published: July 21, 2021 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 22:58
Ancient shipwreck found in sunken port of Heracleion

At an archaeological site located in Egypt’s sunken port of Heracleion, a group of divers discovered the wreck of an ancient ship from Ptolemaic times.

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Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have located the wreck of an ancient warship. According to the information he released, the ship sank covered by stone blocks from the collapsing temple of the god Amon. The incident occurred during a cataclysmic event that took place in the second century BC.

Artefacts discovered at the bottom of the sunken port of Heracleion
Artefacts discovered at the bottom of the sunken port of Heracleion Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Investigating the wreck of an ancient ship

The ship was moored to a pier that was located on a channel running along the southern wall of the temple. Falling blocks of rock from the collapsing edifice not only sank the vessel, but also allowed it to survive to the present day. Because the huge fragments of the building hammered the wooden structure into the clay bottom and covered it tightly, forming a rock sarcophagus.

Now, thanks to the use of prototype sonar, archaeologists have managed to locate the wreck along with fragments of a temple, hidden under a five-metre layer of hard clay. Preliminary research has shown that the wreck of the ancient ship measures 25 metres long. It was a flat-bottomed vessel propelled by oars and a large sail.

Monument excavated by archaeologists
Monument excavated by archaeologists Photo: Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

It is also noteworthy that in another part of the sunken city, archaeologists have discovered the remains of a large Greek necropolis from the early years of the 4th century BC. The barrow extends along the north-eastern entrance channel.

Undoubtedly, this discovery wonderfully illustrates the presence of Greek merchants who inhabited Herakleion. The Greeks were allowed to settle there during the late dynasties. They therefore built their own sanctuaries near the huge temple of Amon. Everything was destroyed by a cataclysm in the second century BC, and their remains mixed and landed together at the bottom. said the minister

Finally, Franck Goddio of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), working with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Hilti Foundation, has been conducting archaeological excavations in the sunken port of Heraklejon for two decades.

Ancient Herakleion

Undoubtedly, Herakleion in ancient times was the largest Egyptian port located on the Mediterranean Sea. The city located at the mouth of the western branch of the Nile was the entrance gate to Egypt. It also played a dominant role in the region for many centuries, long before the foundation of nearby Alexandria in 331 BC. The sunken ruins of the port were found in 2001. The sunken ruins of the port were found in 2001, sparking an intensive and extremely fruitful archaeological work.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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