2011. július 13., szerda

Photo: Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio
Underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio illuminates the foundation plaque of Ptolemy III.
Photograph copyright Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation, Christoph Gerigk
On some of my first archaeological dives in the Bay of Aboukir northeast of Alexandria, in 1984, we were investigating the remains of L’Orientthe flagship of Napoleon’s fleet that was sunk by Admiral Nelson, but it soon became clear that these shallow waters contained much more than a Napoleonic shipwreck. Entire underwater cityscapes lay on the ocean floor, waiting to be restored to their former glory. The mystery of these waters immediately captivated me; the thought that further exploration might unlock some of the biggest questions about Egyptian history was too much for me to resist.
I knew that I would never be able to undertake an exploration of this scope by myself, and so, in 1987, I founded the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), an independent organization supported by private patronage. The primary goal of IEASM was to locate and excavate lost archaeological sites, and to study, restore, and present to the public the objects that underwater archaeologists discovered there. The foundation accumulated an outstanding team of archaeological divers, restoration experts, and researchers, and in 1992, with some generous donations and the permission of the Egyptian government, we began work in the ancient port of Alexandria.
Since then, IEASM research teams have uncovered exceptional works from Alexandria and the sunken cities of Canopus and Heracleion in the Bay of Aboukir. Statues of ancient Egyptian gods, sphinxes, ritual instruments, and gleaming golden vessels have been pulled up from underwater and returned to their native country. All along the streets of Aboukir and Alexandria, as the enormous statues of a Ptolemaic king and queen passed by on their way to restoration and study, crowds applauded and cried out, “Long live Ramses! Long live Cleopatra!” We were so proud to share with the Egyptians the heritage of their civilization.
Although I did not set out to search for Cleopatra, she surfaced in our excavations. Bronze coins bearing her face, ceramics and statuettes produced during her rule, and statues of Ptolemaic queens were all brought up from the ocean floor. Cleopatra’s royal palaces came to life before our eyes, as we developed the first map of the ancient Alexandrian port based on the structures we analyzed underwater.
As our work revealed more clues to Cleopatra’s life and times, I became more and more curious about this woman who was a permanent fixture in the collective imagination of Egypt and the world. Although I stumbled upon my search for this ancient queen, I, too, found myself inspired by her mystery, driven to keep searching for elements of her life in hopes that we might someday understand why she emerged as the most memorable queen of the entire Mediterranean, and why it is that we still know so little about her.

© UWW / Ilka Weber
© UWW / Ilka Weber
© UWW / Ilka Weber
© UWW / Ilka Weber
© UWW / Ilka Weber
© UWW / Ilka Weber

A diver is recovering a statue uf an Ibis, a sacred bird of Thot-Hermes. This one has lost his head, which was probably made from metal and fixed to the neck

Disformed by natural erosion, the sphinx' face is beyond identification.

An archaeological diver is studying a stone block showing royal insignia of the pharaoh Apries (589-570 BC). In them idle of it the sign Ankh, meaning eternal life.

Divers creating a mold of hieroglyph inscriptions carved on an obelisk dating back to the time of Setti 1st (Father of Ramses II).

Sphinx found on the Antirhodos Island near to the priest carrying Osiris-Canopis.

This colossal head from grey granite has been identified as Caesarion, son of Cleopatra and Caesar. It must have belonged to a statue as tall as five meters and was discovered on the ancient coastline facing the Antirhodos island.

This Ibis, a sacred bird of Thot-Hermes, has lost his head, which was probably made from metal and fixed to the neck.

Priest carrying an effigy of Osiris of Canopus found on the Antirhodos Island near the two sphinxes.

Hellenistic colossal head in white marble.

The head of a statue in basalt representing a Pharaoh.

Divers discovering the head of a Statue.

The head of a colossal statue of a Pharaoh had been cleaned after its discovery on the site of the temple of Heracles in the city of Heracleion. Diver: Franck Goddio.

A diver inspects a broken head of a red granite colossal statue of a Pharaoh on the site of the newly discovered temple of Heracles of the city of Heracleion.

The stele had been ordered by the Pharaoh Nectanebo I (4th century BC). The Stele of Heracleion is once again erected in its original position in the ancient sunken city.

Divers admiring underwater the colossal statue of the God Hapi, god of the Nile und fertility, in the Temple of Heracles (Hercules). 4th-3th century B.C. The statue measures 5.2 meters. The God of abundance, of the Nilde flooding and of fertility has never before been dicovered at such a large scale, which points to his importance for the canopic region.

Statue of a Ptolemaic Queen dressed as the Goddess Isis on the sea bead at its original location of the sunken city of Heracleion. The statue of granite was found broken in parts that fit, however, seamlessly onto each other

A diver is looking at a piece of the Naos of the Decades when it was discovered on site of the submerged suburbs of the city of Canopus. This fragment bears a text in hieroglyphic inscriptions which proved to be of a great importance for the understanding of the Egyptian calendar and astrology. This piece belongs to a black granite shrine which dates to the 4th century BC. Part of which had been already discovered in 1776 and is exhibited in the Louvre Museum. Another fragment has been found in 1934 and is now in the Greaco-Roman museum of Alexandria.

A diver is approaching a pharaohnic head which shows distinctive characteristics of the XXV dynasty, known as the Ethopian dynasty (750-656 BC). This could be an image of the pharaoh Chabaka.

A diver is admiring the beautiful statue of Arsinoe II from black Granite, erected where she was found on the site of Canopus-East.

The stele of Heracleion is brought to the surface. This intact stele is covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions, dating to Nectanebo I (378-362 BC) . It is mentioned that it must be set up in the township of Heracleion-Thonis and therefore proves that Heracleion and Thonis were in fact the same city.

Deep Rovers

The remote operating vehicles (ROVs) invented by Graham Hawkes are equipped with cameras and able to perform surveys in up to 1,000 metres depths. One can follow the reconnaissance of the robot in real time in front of screens like a viedo game.
The deep rovers Jules and Jim are submersibles especially designed for searching at great depths for Franck Goddio’s Royal Captain project. Capable of descending to a depth of 2,000 metres and carrying two passengers, they are fitted with a camera and powerful searchlights. The submersibles are equipped with multifunctional articulate robotic arms with a pincer on one side and a suction cup on the other which makes it possible to pick up objects delicately. The plastic bubble in which the passengers travel is 20 centimetres (8 inches) thick to be able to withstand pressure and to allow a panoramic view. Each dive can last up to 8 hours.

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