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Ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion to share its sunken secret at long last

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
June 6th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion, engulfed by the Mediterranean Sea more than 1,200 years ago will soon be sharing its underwater treasures with the modern world. Relics, such as 16-foot sculptures, gold coins and giant tablets are among some of the items recovered from the ancient port city, 20 miles northeast of Alexandria in Egypt.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic online) - The city of Heracleion, which was also known as Thonis, was believed to only be legend for hundreds of years. The city was mentioned by the Greek historian Herodotus, who told of Helen of Troy visiting Heracleion with her lover Paris before the Trojan War.

The city was discovered during a survey of the Egyptian shore at the beginning of the last decade. French researcher Franck Goddio discovered it in 2000 with a team from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology.
 
An international team of marine archaeologists is now preparing to show some of the objects found in the underwater city.

Weights from Athens have also been discovered at the site, confirming beliefs the city was once an important trading port.   

A University of Oxford archaeologist working at the site, Elsbeth van der Wilt told reporters the port was an important hub in the network for long-distance trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"Excavations in the harbor basins yielded an interesting group of lead weights, likely to have been used by both temple officials and merchants in the payment of taxes and the purchasing of goods," she said.

"Amongst these are an important group of Athenian weights. They are a significant archaeological find because it is the first time that weights like these have been identified during excavations in Egypt."

Scientists remain baffled as to why the city suddenly disappeared. One theory suggests a rise in sea level and unstable collapsing sediment combined to submerge the city.

Dr Damian Robinson, director of the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Oxford, who worked on the excavation, told The Telegraph: "It is a major city we are excavating.

"The site has amazing preservation. We are now starting to look at some of the more interesting areas within it to try to understand life there."

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