A trove of artefacts, including the remains of a temple, gold jewelry, coins and the missing piece of a ceremonial ship, have been found by divers swimming through Heracleion, an ancient Egyptian city now underwater.
Heracleion — named after the legendary Hercules, who ancient people believed actually visited the city — was a bustling metropolis in its day.
Then, about 1,500 years ago, it flooded and now sits under about 150 feet (45 meters) of water.
During the latest two-month excavation, archaeologists were delighted to find the remains of a large temple, including its stone columns, and the crumbling remnants of a small Greek temple, which was buried under 3 feet (1 m) of sediment on the seafloor, the ministry reported.
The excavation team of Egyptian and European archaeologists was led by Franck Goddio, the underwater archaeologist who discovered Heracleion 19 years ago.
Together, the team used a scanning tool that transmits images of artifacts resting on the seafloor and those buried beneath it.
The scanning tool revealed part of a boat. During past excavations, archaeologists had found 75 boats, although not all of them were complete.
This new finding was the missing part of boat 61, which was likely used for ceremonial purposes, the Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement.
It wasn’t a small boat, either. When the archaeologists pieced boat 61 together, it measured 43 feet long and 16 feet across (13 m by 5 m).
The team also discovered pottery dating to the third and fourth centuries B.C., the ministry noted.
The team also looked at the underwater site of Canopus, which, like Heracleion, is located in the Gulf of Abu Qir, Alexandria.
At Canopus, the archaeologists found an ancient building complex that extended the city’s footprint southward about 0.6 miles (1 kilometer), the ministry said.
All of these artifacts indicate that Canopus was a busy city from the fourth century B.C. to the Islamic era.