Category Archives: EGYPT

The Lost City Of Heracleion Discovered Deep Underwater After 1,200 Years

The Lost City Of Heracleion Discovered Deep Underwater After 1,200 Years

For centuries, the ‘ lost city of Atlantis has eluded explorers and is almost certainly the stuff of myth. Staggeringly, though, an ancient city that is Atlantis in all but name has emerged from under the sea near Alexandria — and now the lost world of Heracleion is giving up its treasures.

Like in the classical tale, Heracleion was once a wealthy, prosperous place, around 1500 years before it was swallowed up by the sea. It was grand enough to be mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus, the 5th-century BC historian.

He told the fabulous story of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world — she of the face that launched a thousand ships — travelling to Heracleion, then a port of ‘great wealth’, with her glamorous Trojan lover, Paris.

French marine archaeologist Frank Goddio explains text on the stele of Heracleion
Franck Goddio and divers from his team inspect the statue of a pharaoh

But no physical evidence of such a grand settlement appeared until 2001 when a group led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio stumbled upon some relics that led them to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century.

Goddio was in search of Napoleon’s warships from the 1798 Battle of the Nile, when he was defeated by Nelson in these very waters, but came upon this much more significant discovery. Goddio’s team has since been joined by the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology and the Department of Antiquities of Egypt to produce a wealth of dazzling finds.

The archaeologists first faced the mammoth task of reassembling massive stone fragments on the seabed before they could haul them to the surface. Twelve years on, their fabulous finds have been exposed to public view for the first time after more than a millennium spent beneath the silt and water of Aboukir Bay, 20 miles north-east of Alexandria.

Among the discoveries are colossal statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the god Hapi, and an unidentified Egyptian pharaoh — all preserved in immaculate condition by their muddy burial shroud. Along with these 16ft statues, there are hundreds of smaller statues of Egyptian gods — among them the figures that guarded the temple where Cleopatra was inaugurated as Queen of the Nile.

It seems the Amun-Gereb temple at Heracleion was the Egyptian equivalent of Westminster Abbey, where our own Queen was crowned 60 years ago. Dozens of sarcophagi have been found, containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians. Many amulets, or religious charms, have been unearthed, too, showing gods such as Isis, Osiris and Horus.

These were made not just for the Egyptians but for visiting traders, who incorporated them into their own religions and also, one imagines, kept them as trinkets to remind them of their far-flung journeys. The importance of Heracleion has been further proved by the discovery of 64 ships — the largest number of ancient vessels ever found in one place — and a mind-boggling 700 anchors.

Other finds illustrate how crucial Heracleion was to the economy of the ancient world. Gold coins and lead, bronze and stone weights from Athens (used to measure the value of goods and to calculate the tax owed) show that Heracleion was a lucrative Mediterranean trading post.

In the ancient world, the Mediterranean Sea was their equivalent of a superfast motorway. All their greatest cities, including Constantinople, Rome and Athens, were either on the coast or on rivers with easy access to it.

And now Heracleion can be added to their number as Egypt’s most important port during the time of the later pharaohs. It was, if you like, a major motorway junction — the spot where the Nile, Egypt’s lifeline, met the Med. Archaeologists have determined that as well as having a naturally navigable channel next to its ancient harbour, a further artificial channel appears to have been dug to expedite trade.

The Heracleion finds will add tremendous depth to our understanding of the ancient world — not least because, among the discoveries, there are perfectly preserved steles (inscribed pillars) decorated with hieroglyphics. Translated, they will reveal much about the religious and political life in this corner of ancient Egypt.

It was a similar inscription on the Rosetta Stone — discovered in the Nile Delta town of Rosetta in 1799 by a French soldier, and now in the British Museum — that cracked the code of hieroglyphics in the first place.

And like the Rosetta Stone, those steles found beneath the waters of Aboukir Bay are inscribed in Greek and Egyptian, too. Who knows how many more archaeological gems will be uncovered at Heracleion?

The very name of the city is taken from that most famous of Greek heroes, Heracles — aka Hercules — whose 12 labours, from killing the  Hydra to capturing Cerberus, the multi-headed hellhound that guarded the gates of the Underworld, captivated the ancient world.

Heraklion, Crete’s capital and largest city, is also named after Heracles, as was Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town that was buried under ash when Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.

It appears that Heracleion faded in importance in the later classical period, eclipsed by its neighbouring city of Alexandria, which became the capital of Egypt in 312BC.

Still, Heracleion lingered on, later under Roman control, until it slipped into its watery grave some time in the 6th or 7th century AD. What a thrilling discovery we have on our hands now that the sea has, 1,500 years later, giving up one of its greatest secrets.

Archaeologist discovered One of the earliest images of Jesus’ unearthed in an Egyptian tomb

Archaeologist discovered One of the earliest images of Jesus’ unearthed in an Egyptian tomb

The house-church found in Dura, where an image of Jesus dating to 235 C.E. was found

The image has been replicated countless times in churches and artwork, but a team of Spanish archaeologists believes they have found one of the earliest images of Jesus.

A mysterious underground room dating from between the sixth and seventh century AD holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing among other Coptic images.

The Catalan experts who discovered the site in the ancient Egyptian city of Oxyrhynchus think it was the final resting place for a writer and a number of priests

A miraculous discovery! An underground room dating from the sixth century holds an image of a young man with curly hair, who appears to be giving a blessing (pictured) and one expert thinks it could be one of the earliest paintings of Jesus Christ. The image, which is seen here, has been protected from the sun with a thin layer of material

The find has been heralded as ‘exceptional’ by Josep Padró who is leading the exhibition and said the figure accompanies symbols and images of plants that are thought to date from the Coptic period of the first Christians.

Dr. Padró, Emeritus Professor at the University of Barcelona, told La Vanguardia newspaper that the figure is that of ‘a young man with curly hair, dressed in a short tunic and with his hand raised as if giving a blessing.’

‘We could be dealing with a very early image of Jesus Christ.’

Archaeologists are now working to translate inscriptions surrounding the figure in the painting on the wall of the rectangular crypt in a bid to ascertain the man’s identity.

The underground structure measures around eight meters long and four meters deep. Experts from the University of Barcelona, the Catalan Egyptology Society and the University of Montpellier are also unsure of what the function of a structure originally was, but said that the underground stone structure is ‘excellent’ quality.

Tools of the trade: The team of archaeologists also found working tools of a scribe that were buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the pens (pictured) for the deceased to write during the eternal life

They also found working tools of a scribe that was buried in the tomb. They include a metallic inkpot which is still full of ink and two new pens for the deceased to write during the eternal life.

Dr. Padró said: ‘The archaeological site of Oxyrhynchus is known for the thousands of papyri found there, but any scribe was found to date.’

While there were no inscriptions hinting at the identity of the deceased, the remains show that the scribe was probably around 17 years old and lived during the Coptic Roman period.

Archaeologists and engineers had to move around 45tonnes of rock to get to the hidden artwork and another unidentified structure close by, which is connected to the tombs by a set of very worn steps.

No-one is sure of what lies inside it, but experts from the University of Barcelona think it might be a temple, perhaps dedicated to god Serapis – the Hellenistic form of Osiris who is the ancient Egyptian god of the afterlife.

The structures are situated in the middle of what was a processional route joining the Nile with the Osireion, the temple dedicated to Osiris, which is one of the greatest findings of Oxyrhynchus.

Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, has become personally involved with the excavation, The Local reported. The Egyptian ministry will develop the archaeological site to preserve early Christian artwork.

A tomb full of Roman mummies was also found during the excavation.

Are Egyptologists Close to Finding a Pharaoh’s Intact Tomb?

Are Egyptologists Close to Finding a Pharaoh’s Intact Tomb?

Archeologists discovered a 3,500-year-old stone chest in the ruins above the Deir el-Bahari Egyptian site.

The remarkable discovery, concealed near Hatshepsut’s famous Mortuary Temple, suggests a nearby intact royal tomb.

There were different items wrapped in linens in the box. One held a sacrificial goose skeleton the other an egg and the third set contained a wooden box holding what was presumably the ibis egg.

The extraordinary find, which was hidden near the renowned Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, indicates an untouched royal tomb could be nearby.
Archaeologists made the extraordinary find in the rubble above the Egyptian site of Deir el-Bahari.

The Warsaw University Institute of Archeology Professor Andrzej Niwiński said to the PAP, “The chest itself is about 40 cm long with a slightly smaller height, It was perfectly camouflaged, looked like an ordinary stone block.

“This turned out to be a chest only after a closer look.” Next to it, the archaeologists found a folded bundle.

In the case of the bundle, the four layers of linen canvas-covered a wooden box, in which there was a faience box in the shape of a chapel. It contained one of the names of Pharaoh Thutmose II.

Prof. Niwiński is optimistic that his team is close to uncovering the untouched burial place of pharaoh Thutmose II.

Prof. Niwiński, who is leading the excavation team, said: “The royal deposit proves the fact that either a temple was established in the king’s name or the king’s tomb.

“Since we are in the centre of the royal cemetery, it is definitely a tomb. Finding this deposit indicates that we are in the process of discovering the tomb.”

The chest is about 40 cm long, with a slight smaller height, which Prof. Niwiński said “was perfectly camouflaged, looked like an ordinary stone block.”

Apart from the pharaoh’s name, the symbolism of the other objects they found also points to the fact, that the deposit was made in his name.

Thutmose II was the husband of the famous queen and his half-sister, Hatshepsut, though their marriage was most probably dictated by dynastic interest.

Thutmose was only 13 when they wed and died three years later in 1479 BC.

Deir el-Bahari has been the site of work for Polish archaeologists for almost 60 years since the father of Polish archaeology, Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, led a mission in 1961 to document and preserve the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.

During his reign, he was overshadowed by his wife, who would later crown herself pharaoh and become one of the best-known rulers of ancient Egypt.

The stone chest’s discovery, now made public, took place in March last year. The archaeologist continued their work in October 2019, but so far they haven’t found the entrance to the royal tomb.

A faience box in the shape of a chapel contained the name of Pharaoh Thutmose II who was the husband of the famous queen and his half-sister Hatshepsut.

Still, Prof. Niwiński is optimistic that they are close to uncovering an untouched Royal tomb.

Deir el-Bahari has been the site of work for Polish archaeologists for almost 60 years. It started in 1961, when the father of Polish archaeology, Professor Kazimierz Michałowski, led a mission to document and preserve the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut.

Scientists identify ‘mummy juice’ in an Egyptian sarcophagus

Scientists identify ‘mummy juice’ in Egyptian sarcophagus

In Alexandria, Egypt, there was opened a mysterious black granite sarcophagus that dated back to the time Alexander the Grand invaded the city in 331 B.C., has been opened.

This 2,000-year-old black, granite sarcophagus was found in Alexandria, Egypt. Inside, archaeologists found a mix of sewage and skeletons.

The finding was believed that the huge sarcophagus contained Alexander’s remains at the beginning of this month and that opening the sealed and foreboding-looking box would unleash a curse. Neither seems to be true … unless stinky sewage causes some sort of torment.

Archeologists discovered inside the sarcophagus the bones of three skeletons along with the waste. These may be those of soldiers, Egypt’s antiquities ministry said in a statement.

Pictures released by the ministry show the sarcophagus full of the liquid sewage, which must have seeped in at some point.

Analysis of the skeletal remains is ongoing, but initial results suggest that one of the individuals found in the sarcophagus suffered a blow from an arrow, the ministry said in the statement.

No inscriptions or works of art have been found on the outside or inside of the sarcophagus so far. It’s also unclear what artifacts, if any, were buried with the skeletons, the researchers said. An alabaster head of a man was found near the sarcophagus when it was discovered.

Archaeologists with Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities prepare to open the black granite sarcophagus.

The sarcophagus, which is nearly 9 feet long, 5 feet wide and 6 feet tall (2.7 by 1.5 by 1.8 meters) — the largest found in Alexandria — was discovered with a thick layer of mortar covering much of it, Mostafa Waziri, secretary-general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement released by Egypt’s antiquities ministry.

The mortar led Waziri to suggest that the sarcophagus was never opened after it was buried in Alexandria. It’s uncertain if that suggestion is accurate.

The sarcophagus was discovered by archaeologists from the Ministry of Antiquities who were inspecting an area of land in the Sidi Gaber district of Alexandria before construction took place. Researchers opened the sarcophagus at the site where it was discovered.

The opening of the sarcophagus creates a series of new mysteries for Egyptologists to tackle: Who were these three people? When exactly did they live? What killed them? Why were they buried in such a giant sarcophagus? What were they buried with (if anything)? And how did so much liquid sewage get into the sarcophagus?

Three skeletons and liquid sewage were found inside the black sarcophagus from Alexandria, Egypt.

After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., a line of pharaohs descended from one of Alexander’s generals ruled Egypt for centuries. Once the last pharaoh, Cleopatra VII, killed herself in 30 B.C., the Roman Empire took over Egypt.

These pharaohs were involved in numerous wars and conflicts, and it’s possible the three individuals found in the sarcophagus were killed in one of these squirmishes. One of the skeletons shows signs of an arrow injury, suggesting the three may have died in battle. The exact age of the skeletons is unclear.

Why three skeletons, which may be those of soldiers, were buried in a sarcophagus so massive — Waziri said it may be the largest ever found in Alexandria — is also unknown. In ancient Egypt, it was not uncommon for a sarcophagus to be reused, the bodies of its former occupants removed and new occupants put inside. Whether that occurred with this sarcophagus is unknown.  

It’s also unclear what artifacts, if any, were buried with the skeletons. Any objects placed in the sarcophagus could have been destroyed by the sewage or may be found later when the object is studied in more detail.

After the sarcophagus was opened, it was transferred to Alexandria National Museum for conservation and further study.