28 November 2022 The Future is the Product of the Past

Egypt’s Lost city “Thonis-Heracleion”

Thonis-Heracleion (Egyptian and Greek names of the city) is a port city lost between myth and reality until 1999.

Few people now have heard of Thonis-Heracleion, as opposed to Babylon, Pompeii, Truva, or the legendary Atlantis. Indeed, until recent discoveries, it was possible that the waves of the Mediterranean would condemn not only the city’s physical ruins but also its memory, to history.

The city was presumably established in the 8th century BC, experienced several natural disasters, and eventually sank completely under the waters of the Mediterranean in the 8th century AD.

Most historians thought Thonis-Heracleion were two different conurbations, both of which were located on the modern Egyptian mainland, until 1933 when an RAF captain flying over Abu Qir saw ruins in the sea.

The ruins submerged in the sea were located and explored by the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio in 1999, after a five-year search.

Thonis-Heracleion founded approximately 2,700 years ago on the location of present-day Abu Qir bay, 15 miles north-east of Alexandria, preceded its better-known neighbor as the region’s major emporium (trading port) by several centuries and was a center for international commerce.

This stele reveals that Thonis (Egyptian) and Heracleion (Greek) were the same city. Photograph: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation
This stele reveals that Thonis (Egyptian) and Heracleion (Greek) were the same city. Photograph: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

The city, crisscrossed by canals and populated with harbors, wharves, temples, and tower-houses – all linked together by a network of ferries, bridges, and pontoons — controlled the majority of the nautical commerce entering Egypt from the Mediterranean. Goods would be inspected and taxed at the customs administration center before being transported further inland, either to Naukratis – another trading port nearly 50 miles up the Nile – or via the Western Lake, which was connected by a water channel to the nearby town of Canopus and provided access to many other parts of the country.

Archaeologists have so far only discovered a fraction of the city. Photograph: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation
Archaeologists have so far only discovered a fraction of the city. Photograph: Christoph Gerigk © Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation

Thonis-Heracleion had a huge temple dedicated to Khonsou, son of Amun and known as Herakles to the Greeks. Amun worship grew increasingly popular later on. During the sixth and fourth centuries BC, when the city was at its peak, a huge temple dedicated to Amun-Gereb, the Egyptians’ supreme god of the period, stood in the heart of the city.

Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus was a city described by many great historians of antiquity, from Herodotus to Strabo and Diodorus.

The 5.4 metres tall statue of the god Hapy.
The 5.4 metres tall statue of the god Hapy. Photograph: Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation

During the second century, BC Alexandria superseded Thonis (Heracleion) as Egypt’s primary port. According to the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BC), a magnificent temple was constructed where the famed hero Herakles first set foot in Egypt. He also mentions Helen’s journey to Heracleion before the Trojan War with her lover Paris. More than four centuries after Herodotus’ journey to Egypt, the geographer Strabo noted that the city of Heracleion, which held the temple of Herakles, is located directly east of Canopus at the entrance of the Canopic branch of the Nile.

Thonis-Heracleion’s of pomp and glory was waning by the second century BC. Along the coast, the new metropolis of Alexandria was quickly establishing itself as Egypt’s foremost port, while the hybrid foundation of land and sea upon which Thonis-Heracleion was constructed was beginning to seem less secure. The city was destroyed not by a single natural calamity — an earthquake, tsunami, increasing sea levels, or subsidence – but by a mixture of them all.

The excavated items depict the city’s beauty and splendor, the magnificence of their enormous temples, and the richness of historic evidence: colossal sculptures, inscriptions, and architectural components, jewelry and coins, ritual goods, and ceramics – a civilization trapped in time.

The most striking artifact among the city finds is undoubtedly the 5.4-meter-high statue of the god Hapy.

The underwater archaeological excavations at Thonis-Heracleion are still underway. Only 5% of the city, according to Franck Goddio, has been uncovered.

Banner
Related Post

The very unknown ancient city of the Mediterranean; Syedra

3 July 2022

3 July 2022

Known as Turkey’s holiday paradise, the Antalya region is a treasure when it comes to ancient cities. Close to the...

Clarifying The Complexities Of Communication Across Millennia In Mesoamerica

20 February 2022

20 February 2022

The long-held consensus that the more populated and “civilized” a society, the more complex their communication may be more nuanced...

The Oldest “Book” of Europe: Derveni Papyrus

4 September 2022

4 September 2022

The Derveni papyrus is considered Europe’s oldest legible manuscript still in existence today. It is an ancient Greek papyrus roll...

2,500-Year-Old Tombs Uncovered Of Unknown Persons With Gold Tongues in Egypt

6 December 2021

6 December 2021

The remains of two unknown persons with golden tongues were found inside tombs, dating back to the Saite Dynasty (664...

The largest embalming cache ever found in Egypt unearthed at Abusir

10 February 2022

10 February 2022

Archaeologists from the Czech Institute for Egyptian Science have discovered a cache of artifacts related to the practice of Egyptian...

Khirbet Midras pyramid and  Archaeological Site in Israel

28 November 2022

28 November 2022

Khirbet Midras (Arabic) or Horvat Midras (Hebrew) is one of several antiquities sites located within the Adullam Grove National Park,...

Ramses the Great

7 May 2021

7 May 2021

Ramses the Great was the name given to Ramses II, also known as Ramesses or Rameses. He was the third...

Archeologists Discover Two Sphinxes measure 26 feet in length in Egyptian Ruins

21 January 2022

21 January 2022

Archeologists have discovered the remains of two huge sphinx statues, each measuring 26 feet in length, at the funerary temple...

Library Wars in the Old Age!

12 February 2021

12 February 2021

One of, the world’s oldest and largest library, the other was born 100 years later as a rival to it....

Falaj al Misfah: Working for a thousand years

26 September 2021

26 September 2021

The village of Al Misfah Abriyeen is known for its lush oasis, magnificent orchards, and year-round water source, the ‘aflaj.’...

Archaeologists have discovered 85 ancient tombs, a watchtower, and a temple site in Egypt’s Gabal al-Haridi region

5 May 2022

5 May 2022

The Egyptian archaeological mission discovered 85 tombs, a watchtower, and a temple site in the Gabal al-Haridi area of Sohag,...

The Enchanting Ancient City of Rome “Sagalassos”

18 May 2021

18 May 2021

The archaeological site of Sagalassos is a very important and well-preserved settlement located in a magnificent mountain landscape, 7 km north...

Famous Egyptologist Zahi Hawass Wants to See Hieroglyphs as an İntegral Part of The Curriculum

23 February 2021

23 February 2021

The Egyptian council of ministers is discussing the introduction of archaeological and tourist materials in the education curriculum to help...

Archaeologists have discovered the ruins of what may be one of the four lost Ancient Egyptian “Sun Temples”

31 July 2022

31 July 2022

A Polish and Italian archaeological mission, while conducting an excavation in the Abusir necropolis near Saqqara in Egypt, unearthed the...

The best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy can be seen in Jerash the ancient city of Jordan’s

2 December 2021

2 December 2021

Jerash is a magnificent old Roman city located around 50 kilometers from Amman, Jordan. Jerash is considered the most well-preserved...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *