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What Divers Found Deep In The Mediterranean Sea Seems Like Out Of Science Fiction

Ancient History | August 29, 2015

Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio and his diving team were searching for shipwrecks when they chanced upon some relics, which led to one of the greatest finds of the 21st century: Egypt's sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion.

The 1,600-year-old city had been mentioned by 5th century BC historian Herodotus, describing it as an extraordinary city of ‘great wealth.’ Then around 1,200 years ago, the city vanished.

For centuries, Thonis-Heracleion was thought to be just a legend when... lo and behold!

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Head of a gigantic statue made of red granite (5.4 meters) representing the god Hapi, which decorated the temple of Heracleion.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Many more statues and fragments are fished out to the surface, still in excellent condition. Some of them dating back as early as the 2nd century BC.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Greek text engraved in a gold object.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Bronze statue of Osiris, the assassinated and resurrected king-god.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Diver measures the feet of a colossal red granite statue.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Bronze oil lamp, about 2nd century BC.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Franck Goddio with the still intact and inscribed Heracleion stele. This is identical to the Naukratis Stele in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This one was commissioned by Nectanebo I, 378-362 BC.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Goddio inspecting a stone with gold fragments.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

A gold vessel, Phiale

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

A Ptolemaic queen statue

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

A reg granite colossus of a Ptolemaic queen, which measures 490 cm in height and weighs around 4 tons.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

The 5-meter head of a pharaoh statue is raised to the surface.

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

Bronze statuette of pharaoh of the 26th dynasty

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Christoph Gerigk ©Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation

“We are just at the beginning of our research," Franck Goddio said. "We will probably have to continue working for the next 200 years for Thonis-Heracleion to be fully revealed and understood.”

Credit: Franck Goddio

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