Archaeologists Make New Discoveries at Ancient Temple in Sunken City off Egypt’s Coast

A team of underwater archaeologists has made new discoveries at a sunken temple in the ancient port city Thonis-Heracleion, which is now located off Egypt’s coast, the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) announced on Tuesday.

The city, which was initially found underwater by the IEASM in 2000, was once Egypt’s largest port along the Mediterranean Sea. That port was active for centuries before the founding of Alexandria in 331 BCE. Its remains are now under the ocean roughly 4.3 miles from the current coastline.

Led by French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio, the team found huge blocks of stone from a collapsed ancient temple dedicated to the god Amun. Pharaohs went to the temple to be bestowed with their power as king.

Additionally, the team found precious objects, among them silver ritual instruments, gold jewelry, and alabaster containers for perfumes and ointments. These objects are thought to have once belonged to the temple treasury.

Excavations conducted by Goddio’s team and the underwater archaeology department of Egypt’s ministry and tourism department yielded underground structures supported dating back to the 5th century BCE. Before these structures sunk, they were supported using wooden posts and beams. The use of new geophysical prospecting technologies, which make it possible to detect buried chambers and objects, aided in the find.

A Greek sanctuary to Aphrodite containing bronze and ceramic objects was unearthed east of the Amun temple. Archaeologists believe that the discovery of Greek weapons in the area indicated the presence of mercenaries who would have been defending access to the Kingdom. It also demonstrates that Greeks were allowed to trade and settle in the city during the Saïte dynasty (664–525 BCE).