Divers bring up 1200 year old treasure

Date: 1/8/2001

Six kilometres off the Egyptian coast, divers have recovered colossal statues, bronze vessels, gold coins and jewellery lost when the city of Herakleion sank into the Mediterranean sea in an earthquake.

The city was discovered by French underwater explorer Franck Goddio last year. His team of marine archaeologists has found an area rich in ruins covering almost a square kilometre. There are sphinxes, statues, long walls still intact and a fleet of shipwrecked boats sitting on the seabed.

An inscribed stone slab (stele) has virtually confirmed for Mr Goddio that the city he has found is Herakleion. The stele is covered in hieroglyphics which tell of an order from Pharaoh Nektanebos the First, declaring a 10% tax on Greek goods to go towards building a temple to the goddess Neith. At the bottom it specifies that the stele must be set up in the town of Herakleion-Thonis.

Ten ships have been found on the sea bottom indicating there was a port there. They were probably sunk by a tidal wave. The city disappeared into the sea after an earthquake in the eighth century.

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