These images show how archaeologists have uncovered new treasures including a warship and a funerary site while searching the sunken ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion.
The find took place in Abu Qir Bay in Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast in northern Egypt.
The underwater excavation, which also uncovered a funerary complex, was a French and Egyptian mission led by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), the Egyptian Ministry of tourism and Antiquities said in a statement.
The announcement of the discovery was made by the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziry.
The statement explained that the military vessel had been kept pinned to bottom of a deep canal all these years after huge blocks from a temple to Amun, the ancient Egyptian god of the sun and air, fell on top of it during a “cataclysmic event” during the second century BC.
The remains of the vessel were found under about 5 metres of solid clay mixed in with debris from the temple using cutting-edge technology, including a sub-bottom profiler, one of the most useful tools used to scan sediment and rock beneath the seafloor, according to the head of Egyptian archaeology sector, Dr Ayman Ashmawi.
Frank Judio, the head of the IEASM, said that the discovery was a very rare find indeed, adding that it was unusual to find vessels dating back to that era. He added that Greek vessels of this type were unheard of until a vessel called the Bouniqia Marsala, which dates back to about 235 BC, was discovered.
Until now, that vessel was reportedly the only one of its kind to have been discovered.
An initial assessment has shown that the newly discovered sunken vessel measured over 25 metres and had a flat bottom and a large sail, which will have been useful for navigating the Nile River and Delta.
According to Professor Ehab Fahmy, the head of the central administration of sunken monuments, the funerary area that was discovered dates back to the fourth century BC and is located near the entrance to what was a north-eastern channel into the ancient city.
According to the statement, this explains the presence of Greek merchants who lived in the city at the time, who were permitted by the pharaohs of the era to settle there.
The statement also highlights that the ancient city was Egypt’s largest port in the Mediterranean at one time and predates Alexandria, which was founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC.
But during a cataclysmic event, the city of Heracleion, which is also sometimes known as Thonis-Heracleion, was sunk and all that is left of it can now be found some 7 kilometres from the beach in Abi Qir bay.
During the second century BC, Heracleion was surpassed by Alexandria, which became Egypt’s main port. It was around this time that a combination of rising sea levels, tsunamis, and earthquakes spelt the demise of the city. By the 8th century AD, the entire city had sunk.