Egypt exposed: How two underwater cities were found completely intact below Nile | World | News

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The Egyptian town of Heracleion and the Greek city of Canopus were first spotted by an RAF plane in 1933. However, World War 2 and the Cold War prevented further exploration of these waters, until 2000, when archaeologist Frank Goddio of the French Institut European d’Archologie Sous-Marine used state-of-the-art technology to expose the secrets. Armed with geo-sensing surveying tools, he was able to measure the Earth’s surface to map out the seabed.

The images chronicled the sunken landscape and its main topographical features.

Divers, including Dr Damian Robinson, director of the Oxford Centre of Maritime Archaeology, were called in to take a better look.

Dr Robinson said in 2016: “Using a nuclear resonance magnetometer, specially developed by a French energy commission, Dr Goddio was able to measure the Earth’s magnetic field and variations in it caused by the local deposit geology.”

However, Dr Robinson admitted the divers had some problems.

He said: “[The recovery was] not as spectacular as you’d think because there’s so much sand.

“Visibility was also very poor because of algae that give the water a green tinge. 

“So we can only go digging at specific times – June and in October.”

However, that did not stop the team making some incredible finds.

They found 69 ships, ancient houses built from mud, hauls of treasure – including a statue of the pharaoh Hapi and a huge black stele.

They also discovered pots and artefacts to help tell them more about the people that lived in these cities.

Dr Robinson outlined what the team believe happened to the two settlements, which were built on unstable Nile clay.

He added: “They had a lot of water in them.

“Then too many people caused the sediment to collapse, pushing the water out and causing people to abandon the city.

“This, in 800AD, was the first of two dramatic collapses, but the land itself didn’t fully sink until 1000 years later due to rising sea levels.”

Heracleion, named after the legendary Hercules, who is believed to have visited the city — was a bustling metropolis in its day. 

When it was built in about the eighth century BC, it sat on the edge of the River Nile, next to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Canopus, was very similar to Heracleion, located in the Gulf of Abu Qir, Alexandria. 

All of the artefacts found indicate it was a busy city from the fourth century BC through to the Islamic era.

As recently as this month, researchers are still trawling through the buried cities and pulling out some amazing finds.

Just two days ago, divers swimming through Heracleion discovered a trove of artefacts, including the remains of a temple, gold jewellery, coins and the missing piece of a ceremonial boat.



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