Even Pharoah Took Swimming Lessons
By Julie Cremer
What do you think of when you hear the words, “Ancient Egypt?” You probably envision the massive, midday sun scorching an endless landscape of sand. The Great Pyramid rises up in the distant horizon dwarfing temples, houses and t he palace of the Pharaohs in its massive wake. Camels munch on whatever sustenance they can find while the locals cruise up and down the Nile, tend irrigation farms and catch up on the latest news in the Daily Heiroglyph.
What does not come to mind is an entire Egyptian civilization under several feet of saltwater. Egyptians may fish from the Nile but Scuba diving is not one of their fortes. Nonetheless, an amazing discovery was found a year or two ago in the Mediterranean Sea in the bay of Abu Qir 3.5 miles off the coast of the modern Egyptian resort of Alexandria.
French archaeologist Frank Giddio and his team have discovered the long-lost city of Heracleion. Now this is no Atlantis. However, this discovery offers more insight into ancient Egyptian society and culture as well as clues as to how this city disappeared off the North African map.
“This is a very interesting mission,” said Frank Giddio,. “We discovered so many things. The site is amazingly rich.”
Using magnetic wave technology, the archaeologists found the city’s harbor, palaces and temples as well as ten antique shipwrecks. Divers brought to the surface incredible finds that included 20-foot tall, pink granite statues of a pharaoh and a queen who worshipped Hapi;
the Egyptian goddess of the Nile and flooding (ironic, huh?). They also found a black granite stela, or engraved stone weighing ten tons with “Rahinet,” the ancient Egyptian name for Heracleion, inscribed on the bottom. Based upon the ten ancient shipwrecks near the city, scientists have hypothesized that Heracleion and two cities nearby were engulfed by a massive earthquake and tidal wave about 1,200 years ago.
This city was only known by ancient writings until Giddio’s team discovered it. The writings describe the city’s splendor as well as a temple dedicated to Heracles-or in Latin, Hercules the snake-wrestling son of Zeus. Therefore, we can conclude that Heracleion derives its name from this legendary macho man.
So what is the moral of this ancient Egyptian tale? You never know what amazing things might be hidden in the depths of the ocean for us to “sea” and discover. We have uncovered and mapped out more of the Earth’s landmasses and the surface of the moon than we have underneath the waves. Who knows? Maybe someday we will finally feast our eyes on the final resting place of the lost city of Atlantis! Dory in Finding Nemo had it right when she told Marlin to “just keep swimming….just keep swimming….just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”
Hi! My name is Julie “Jules” Cremer. I live in Nashville and from the time I could walk, I have always had a passion for animals; especially any kind of creature that could swim or breathe underwater. I graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. While in college, I kept a saltwater tank filled with corals and clownfish; all the while facing the challenges and rigors that come with maintaining any kind of aquatic life.
1. Abad-Hamid, Hoda. “Archaeologists Find Sunken Egyptian City”. ABC News. 7, June, 2014. http://www.abcnews.com/Technology/Story?id=98511. Web. 23,
1. Christoph Gerigh (Franck Giddio/Hilti Foundation)
2. Christoph Gerigh (Franck Giddio/Hilti Foundation)
3. Christoph Gerigh (Franck Giddio/Hilti Foundation_