Ancient ship and burial grounds found in submerged city

An ancient ship has been discovered by archeologists in Egypt.

The 2200-year-old wreck of the ancient ship sank after knocking one of the giant blocks from the temple of Amun. The galley was discovered alongside a burial ground resting below the Mediterranean at Thonis-Heracleion - an ancient city that once stood out as Egypt’s largest port. 

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In a statement issued on July 19, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities attributed the occurrence to a potential earthquake. The galley’s wreckage lies just above 16 feet (5m) above the clay and rubble around the temple. 

Bay of Abu Qir Bay

The site of the find is in Abu Qir Bay a few kilometers from Alexandria. Researchers working on this project used a special type of sonar to locate it. Close to the site of the sunken ship, archeologists discovered a burial ground that was in use 2400 years ago. Amidst the wreckage was decorated pottery, including one with images of waves painted on it. Also discovered was a golden amulet depicting Bes, an Egyptian god associated with fertility and childbirth. At times ancient Egyptians used images of god to safeguard the young children and young ones at birth. Scattered across the burial ground was a tumultuous pile of rocks commonly used in the ancient world to mark burial locations. 

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Ship characteristics 

Such kinds of finds, in particular fast galleys, are very rare. The discovered ship was constructed with the mortise-and-tenon technique, where protruding pieces of wood ‘tenons’ are placed into wooden pieces with mortises (holes) cut into them. The final product is a ship whose wooden sections interlock together like a jigsaw puzzle. It still remains unclear what type of cargo the galley carried before it capsized. The ship-building techniques used in its construction were a blend of Greek and Egyptian. 

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Egypto-Grecian influences

The ancient city where discoveries were made was known as Thonis to its ancient inhabitants. The Greeks referred to it as Heracleion; hence the modern archeological depiction as Thonis-Heracleion. It is believed several earthquakes and tsunamis battered the sea resulting in it sinking until it completely submerged 1000 years ago. Not many people stayed around afterward, preventing the city from regaining its former self. 

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The city flourished at a period when there was an influx of Greeks who arrived in the area and brought along their cultural traditions. Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in In 332 B.C and a line of rulers emanating from one of his generals would rule Egypt for the next three centuries. 

The rediscovery was made in 1999-2000 by archeologists working with the ministry of iniquities and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology. The remains have remained under study ever since. Thus far archeologists have explored less than 5% of the ancient city. 

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