Submerged for more than a thousand years, the ancient Egyptian city of Thonis-Heracleion was only recently rediscovered by Franck Goddio and his team at the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology.
Thonis-Heracleion was named after the Greek hero Herakles. It was one of Egypt’s most important harbour towns between about 600 and 100 BC. Located on the Mediterranean coast at the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile, the city guarded the western entrance to Egypt and controlled its maritime trade. The whole site consists of several islands, with a network of channels and port basins connecting the inland areas with the Mediterranean Sea and the Nile. Thonis-Heracleion was also a major religious centre – the two most important temples discovered so far are dedicated to Amun, king of the Egyptian gods, and his son Khonsu-the-Child (who was identified with the Greek Herakles).
Find out more about Thonis-Heracleion and its amazing rediscovery in the BP exhibition Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds (19 May – 27 Nov 2016).
Pink granite garden vat. Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt, Ptolemaic Period, 4th–2nd century BC. Photo: Christoph Gerigk. © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation.