Stunning discoveries made by divers just off the coast of Heracleion, Crete. Is this evidence that the Egyptian Empire was far larger than has been commonly assumed by historians and archaeologists?
The city of Heracleion was engulfed underwater 1500 years ago. This grand city had been mentioned by the Greek writer Herodotus, the 5th-century BC historian. He had told a wonderful tale of Helen of Troy, who traveled to Heracleion, then a port of ‘great wealth’, with her Trojan lover, Paris.
When French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio stumbled upon some relics, it led them to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century; a city underwater. The discovery took place when Goddio had been in search of Napoleon’s warships from the 1798 Battle of the Nile, when he had been defeated by Nelson in these very waters, but to his surprise, he stumbled upon this magnificent discovery.
The discoveries include the colossal statues of the Egyptian goddess Isis, the god Hapi, and an unidentified Egyptian pharaoh, all preserved in excellent condition by their muddy burial shroud. Along with these 16ft statues there are hundreds of smaller statues of Egyptian gods, among them the figures that guarded the temple where Cleopatra who was inaugurated as Queen of the Nile. Dozens of sarcophagi have also been found, containing the bodies of mummified animals sacrificed to Amun-Gereb, the supreme god of the Egyptians. Many amulets, or religious charms, have been unearthed, too, showing gods such as Isis, Osiris and Horus.