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Pilot Discovers An Ancient Lost City After Noticing Dark Shadows In The Sea

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In 1933, an RAF pilot was flying over the bay when he saw dark shadows in the water. He told this to a member of the royal Egyptian family, who later ordered a diver to see. The result? the diver found the head of Alexander the Great.

Who would have thought that the dark shadows in the water observed by an RAF pilot will lead to the discovery of the lost ancient city of Heracleion, 30 feet under the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

In the Bay of Aboukir on the coast of Egypt, a French archaeologist named Franck Goddio was on a diving trip. He was specifically four miles from the shore and ready to end the day, when he found something that made him go back.

A sunken city, lost thousands of years ago.

The 68-year-old founder of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology did not mind the strong current or possible shark attacks.

The thing that caught his eye was a huge block of granite, which upon close inspection, was actually a big toe structure.

Turned out, the foot was one of the seven components of a pink granite statue of Hapi, the Egyptian God of Fertility and of the yearly flooding of Nile.

The foot structure is just one of the many materials that Goddio and his colleagues found in the sea bed. In 2000 and 2001, they also discovered the lost ancient Egyptian cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus.

Thonis Heracleion was a port city for Egypt founded in the 8th century B.C.
Source: Christoph Gerigk

During 8th century BC, Thonis was the primary entrance of goods inside the nation prior to the rise of Alexandria. The said city was connected to adjacent Canopus via canals.

In 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered the country and spearheaded the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty. This paved the way for the time of Cleopatra. The cities became a vital part of the Greco-Egyptian culture.

Due to a series of natural disasters, the city was lost to the sea in the 8th century A.D.
Source: Christoph Gerigk

Around 80 BC, the sea wiped away the cities, where thousand of people died. This explains why Goddio and his team found human remains in temples, stuck under blocks.

“It is very poignant,” he said.

The disaster destroyed the statue of Hapi big time and into seven pieces.

Franck Goddio and his team with a colossal statue of Hapi.
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The colossal statue of red granite (5.4 m) representing the god Hapi decorated the temple of Heracleion. The god of the flooding of the Nile, symbol of abundance and fertility, has never before been discovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the Canopic region.

Frank Goddio and his team discovered the lost city, along with tons of artifacts and treasures from the ancient world.
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On a barge the colossal triade of the temple of Heracleion has been raised together with the assembled fragments of a huge stele. The pharaoh, the queen and the god Hapi are represented in red granite. All about 5 meters high, dated to the 4th century B.C. The red granite stele (found in 17 pieces) is assembled. It dates from the 2nd century B.C.

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This gold object (11 x 5 cm) was found during the preliminary exploration of the southern sector of Heracleion. It is engraved with a Greek text of five and a half lines. It is an example of a plaque that act as a signature for foundation deposits in the name of the king, Ptolemy III (246–222 BC), responsible for building.

Bronze statue of Osiris, the assassinated and resurrected king-god.
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This bronze statue of Osiris is adorned with the atef crown. The typical insignia of power (crook and flail) are missing. Its open eyes are accentuated by fine gold sheets.

An archaeologist measures the feet of a colossal red granite statue at the site of Heracleion
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Bronze oil lamp discovered in the temple of Amun.
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Franck Goddio with the intact and inscribed Heracleion stele (1.90 m).
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The Heracleion stele was commissioned by Nectanebo I (378-362 BC) and is almost identical to the Naukratis Stele in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The place where it was to be situated is clearly named: Thonis-Heracleion.

The place where it was supposed to be erected is explicitly mentioned: Thonis-Heracleion.
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Franck Goddio inspecting a stone with gold fragments (6th-2nd century BC).
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A gold vessel (Phiale) recovered from Thonis-Heracleion.
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Phiale were shallow dishes used throughout the Hellenistic world for drinking and pouring libations.

These really are incredible objects, and ones that give us information about this city and its culture.
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One of the finest finds from the bay of Aboukir is a remarkable Graeco-Egyptian product of the Ptolemaic era – a statue of a Ptolemaic queen in dark stone wearing the usual robe that identifies the sovereigns of Isis incarnate. Found at the site of Heracleion, the statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Most likely, a representation of Cleopatra II or Cleopatra III, dressed as goddess Isis.

It’s incredible how long these relics were lost deep in the Abu Qir Bay.
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Colossus of a Ptolemaic queen made out of red granite. The whole statue measures 490 cm in height and weighs 4 tons. It was found close to the big temple of sunken Heracleion.

This really was a monumental discovery, and certainly a dream for any underwater archaeologist.
heracleion-15

A colossal statue of red granite (5.4 m) representing the god Hapi, which decorated the temple of Heracleion. The god of the flooding of the Nile, symbol of abundance and fertility, has never before been discovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the Canopic region.

heracleion-16

A colossal statue of red granite (5.4 m) representing the god Hapi, which decorated the temple of Heracleion. The god of the flooding of the Nile, symbol of abundance and fertility, has never before been discovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the Canopic region.

heracleion-17

One of the finest finds from the bay of Aboukir is a remarkable Graeco-Egyptian product of the Ptolemaic era – a statue of a Ptolemaic queen in dark stone. Found at the site of Heracleion, the statue is certainly one of the queens of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Most likely, a representation of Cleopatra II or Cleopatra III, dressed as goddess Isis.

heracleion-18
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Head of a pharaoh statue is raised to the surface. The colossal statue is of red granite and measures over 5 metres. It was found close to the big temple of sunken Heracleion.

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Bronze statuette of pharaoh of the 26th dynasty, found at the temple of Amon area at Heracleion. The sovereign wears the “blue crown” (probably the crown of the accession). His dress is extremely simple and classical: the bare-chested king wears the traditional shendjyt kilt or loincloth.

Just one of the unfortunate priests who were killed during the disaster.
Head Of A Priest
Source: Christoph Gerigk

When Goddio saw it, he knew it was a find of a lifetime.

Colossal Queen
Source: Christoph Gerigk

Goddio was pleased with this development, which led him to think why remnants such as the one earlier discovered were all found under the water. He came to the realization that maybe there is nothing to find on land as everything is under the waters.

Head Of An Egyptian God
Head Of An Egyptian God

Source:Christoph Gerigk

Goddio set out to identify where exactly the locations of the ancient cities are under the ocean. In 1996, he was able to narrow the specific area where they can discover possible finds. However, the journey just became more gruesome as the three years that follow did not yield any result.

“It was a tough time for me,” acknowledges Goddio.

Just One Of the Heads Found By Goddio’s Team
Just One Of the Heads Found By Goddio's Team

Source:Christoph Gerigk

Now, the fruit of their labor has finally been reaped. Sixty seven years after the RAF pilot discovery, here they are, with about 80 ship wrecks, the temple and particular artifacts.

Good job!

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This is one of the coolest discoveries I’ve ever seen, and considering we’ve only explored around 5% of all the oceans on this planet, imagine how much more there is to discover.

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