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Thonis-Heracleion – New exciting discoveries in the sunken ancient port city!

Published: October 5, 2023 - 16:16
Updated: October 5, 2023 - 16:16
Thonis-Heracleion – New exciting discoveries in the sunken ancient port city!

Underwater archaeologists have made stunning new discoveries during excavations at the sunken ancient port city of Thonis-Heracleion.

The sunken ancient port city Thonis-Heracleion, located off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, is one of the most remarkable underwater archaeological sites in the world. In past archaeological excavations, researchers have unearthed countless amazing artifacts from the submerged ruins. As it turns out, Alexandria’s coastal waters still hide many secrets just waiting to be discovered.

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Treasures of Thonis-Heracleion
Artifacts found in the sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

New discoveries in Thonis-Heracleion

During a recent excavation campaign, researchers found a sunken sanctuary and temple. According to experts from the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), the discovered places of cult are linked to Aphrodite and Amon. What’s more, large amounts of treasures have been discovered in them, which have survived on the seabed since ancient times.

During the archeological excavations in Thonis-Heracleion site, a team of scientists led by Franck Goddio focused on investigating the southern channel of the sunken port city. Field work at the site was conducted in cooperation with the Department of Underwater Archaeology of Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Amon’s Temple

At the chosen site, researchers have discovered large stone blocks that collapsed during an earthquake that struck the city in the 2nd century BC. As it turns out, these are fragments of a place of cult – a temple dedicated to the god Amon. In ancient Egypt, he was the personification of the invisible life-giving elements of nature: air and wind. Researchers also discovered well-preserved underground structures, supported by wooden stamps, dating to the fifth century BC.

Excavations in Thonis-Heracleion
Underwater archaeologist during excavations in the sunken city of Heracleion Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

At the site, archaeologists also found many small objects. These includes silver ritual instruments, gold jewelry and alabaster containers used to store perfumes and ointments. These are another remarkable treasures that will join the very long list of artifacts that archaeologists have brought to the surface.

The sunken ancient port of Thonis-Heracleion is located approx. 7 kilometers off the current coast of Egypt. In ancient times it was one of Egypt’s main port cities in the Mediterranean Sea. The first research and excavations at the site were carried out by IEASM researchers nearly a quarter of a century ago in 2000.

Treasures of Alexandria
Artifacts discovered during recent excavations Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

Aphrodite’s Shrine

It is worth mentioning that besides the temple of Amon, the researchers also discovered a Greek shrine dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. In its ruins, archaeologists located a number of objects made of bronze and pottery. As the researchers explained, this may suggest the presence of mercenaries stationed in the area. Undoubtedly, it is also evidence that Greeks may have been trading and settling in the area.

Photo: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

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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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