The treasures of the ancient sunken city of Herakleion off the coast of Egypt
have been revealed to the public for the first time. Herakleion was Egypt's
main port in the time of the pharaohs, but until its rediscovery last year,
it was known only through Greek legends and a few ancient history books.
Researchers believe the ancient city was sent to the bottom of the
Mediterranean after than earthquake rocked the region more than 1,000 years
Archeologists found a city almost untouched by time, full of colossal
statues, hieroglyphic tablets and an extraordinary store of gold coins and
jewelry. "History is materializing in our hands," says Egypt's Culture
Minister Farouk Hosni. As many as 20,000 pieces are still on the sea floor.
Among the most remarkable discoveries is a giant stone tablet that pinpointed
the lost city's location. The black granite slab is inscribed with an edict
of Pharaoh Nektanebos the First, who ruled from 378 to 362 BC, imposing a 10%
tax on Greek gods and promoting a temple to the Egyptian goddess Neith.
Herakleion was a place of worship as well as trade, as revealed by the temple
of Heracles found beneath the waves. It was also, according to legend, a
place of love where the beautiful Helena, of Homeric legend, was said to have
fled with her lover to escape her jealous husband Menelaos.
Chinese archeologists have begun underwater exploration of a huge
archeological site deep in Fuxian Lake in Southwest China's Yunnan province.
They hope to solve the mystery of this ancient underwater city on the bottom
of China's second deepest lake.
Archeologists have found many cultural relics and radiocarbon dating of them
indicates that the site may contain remains of buildings from the Han Dynasty
that lasted over 400 years, from 206 BC to 220 AD. The relics include a stone
with figures on it that is thought to have come from an ancient house and may
be a snake totem representing the ancient Dian Kingdom. Many experts believe,
based on the patterns and structures of the underwater buildings, that the
remains in the lake are from the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dian.
As in Herakleion, legends about a sunken city had been told for years, but
the reality of city's existence wasn't confirmed until an underwater
explorer discovered some artifacts from it.
This is an exciting year for sunken cities: As we reported May 19,
archeologists working in Cuba recently discovered a sunken city that was once
connected by a land bridge to Mexico and was populated by an advanced
civilization similar to the early Teotihuacan culture of Yucatan.