See the Trove of Ancient Treasures, Including a Shrine to Aphrodite, Just Discovered in an Underwater City Off the Coast of Egypt
Sarah Cascone, October 6, 2023
“It is extremely moving to discover such delicate objects, which survived intact despite the violence and magnitude of the cataclysm,” Goddio said in a statement.
Thonis-Heracleion was Egypt’s biggest port for centuries, before being surpassed by Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 B.C.E. The city was eventually lost thanks to a combination of rising sea levels, earthquakes, and tsunamis, disappearing beneath the waves along with a large section of the Nile delta. It was largely forgotten for centuries, until 21st-century archaeologists began investigating.
The most recent mission has uncovered well-preserved underground structures beneath the temple, made from wooden posts and beams from the 5th century B.C.E. To detect subterranean chambers and objects buried beneath yards of clay, the team used new geophysical prospecting technologies.
During the mission, archaeologists discovered a new sanctuary to Aphrodite, suggesting a strong presence of Greek settlers and traders in Thonis-Heracleion. Several finds of ancient Greek weapons provide further evidence of Grecian influence in the port city during the time of the Saïte dynasty (around 664 to 525 B.C.E.)
Other recent archaeological discoveries in Egypt include a 3,200-year-old underground tomb complex and two mummification workshops in the ancient Saqqara necropolis.
See more photos of the most recent Thonis-Heracleion excavations and their finds below.