If we told you a story of an ancient city, some 1,200 years old, that has been devoured by the foreboding Mediterranean Sea and entombed under a tons of mud, rock and sand – you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the opening passage to a Disney fairytale.
But this is one story that isn’t fantasy, in fact you could say it truly is the stuff of dreams.
Originally called ‘Heracleion’ by the Greeks but named ‘Thonis’ by the ancient Egyptians, the existence of the mythical city was confirmed to be true when in 2000, Dr. Frank Goddio (an underwater archaeologist) made one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century.
Along with his team from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, he unearthed the lost city, revealing a treasure trove of artefacts and ruins some 30ft under the Mediterranean Sea in Aboukir Bay, Alexandria. For the past 13 years they have been painstakingly excavating the area, lifting up pieces of history, long since forgotten, from the bottom of the ocean.
As more fragments and elements are brought to the surface, his team has been able to create a virtual model of what the city might have looked like all those years ago. The popular view is that Thonis/Heracleion was in fact a port, due to its location – acting as an entry point for merchants and trade. The items that have been discovered during the excavation also support the theory, gold coins, stone ledgers and even weights all suggests a city bustling with energy, commerce and transactions. Over the 13 year period, notable artefacts that have been brought to the surface include 16-ft sculptures that may have been positioned in the city’s main temple, whilst a staggering 64 shipwrecks have been discovered.