If we told you a story of an ancient city, some 1,200 years old, that has been devoured by the foreboding Mediterranean Sea and entombed under a tons of mud, rock and sand – you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the opening passage to a Disney fairytale.
But this is one story that isn’t fantasy, in fact you could say it truly is the stuff of dreams.
Originally called ‘Heracleion’ by the Greeks but named ‘Thonis’ by the ancient Egyptians, the existence of the mythical city was confirmed to be true when in 2000, Dr. Frank Goddio (an underwater archaeologist) made one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century.
Along with his team from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, he unearthed the lost city, revealing a treasure trove of artifacts and ruins some 30ft under the Mediterranean Sea in Aboukir Bay, Alexandria. For the past 13 years they have been painstakingly excavating the area, lifting up pieces of history, long since forgotten, from the bottom of the ocean.
As more fragments and elements are brought to the surface, his team has been able to create a virtual model of what the city might have looked like all those years ago. The popular view is that Thonis/Heracleion was in fact a port, due to its location – acting as an entry point for merchants and trade. The items that have been discovered during the excavation also support the theory, gold coins, stone ledgers and even weights all suggests a city bustling with energy, commerce and transactions. Over the 13 year period, notable artifacts that have been brought to the surface include 16-ft sculptures that may have been positioned in the city’s main temple, whilst a staggering 64 shipwrecks have been discovered.
But though one great mystery has been solved, another still looms. To this day, few can tell with absolutely certainly why the city itself was plunged into the water depths of the Mediterranean Sea. What caused it to sink? Did it collapse? Was a natural disaster to blame? Goddio’s team have spent countless hours piecing together evidence, trying to find an answer
Their theory? The heavy stone used in the construction of the city’s buildings would easily have sunk into the soggy clay earth used to hold the foundations in place – that’s all well and good, but should an earthquake have hit, those very same structures would have slide and tumbled unrelentingly into the watery depths below.
1,200 years on, the city has risen again.
Via Dr. Frank Goddio