A fateful sequence of natural disasters - including an earthquake and tsunamis several - condemned them to bite the dust of the seafloor. Its finding under the waters of the Mediterranean for more than 15 years was one of the most formidable events of recent Egyptology. Franck Goddio, the French archaeologist who signed the rescue, still fresh snapshots of that day of the year 2000 in which the temples and Thonis-Heraklion port recovered the breath. «» I remember very well the day of the discovery of the naos [sacred sanctuary] of the Temple of Amon-Gereb. Their inscriptions helped quickly to identify the place», confesses to the world Goddio on the occasion of a great exhibition recently opened in Paris which gathers the most precious objects plucked into oblivion by their team. «Another exciting souvenir», adds, "is the moment in which we returned the view toward a big slab of diorite in a wall of the monument.
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When the water is clarified, we realized that it was filled with magnificent hieroglyphic intact stele. Was that part which gave us the Egyptian name of the city, Thonis, solving an enigma that had lasted for two millennia. Heraklion and Thonis were the same villa. Thonis was its Egyptian name; Heraklion, the Greek". Since Goddio, become world face of the underwater archaeology, has not stopped to tread the immensity that houses the remains of the villa of double name with the nearby Canopus, cakes in 1997. Located two kilometers east of the current port of Abukir, last of Canopus is scattered over 150 meters. From the depths have emerged columns of red granite, blocks of limestone, jewelry and coins from the Byzantine period. Guarded by nearly two meters of sand, are the foundations of a wall 103 meters which would have surrounded a temple of great proportions. Both cities met a prosperity that ruined the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the great in 331 B.c. Until its recent revival, classical texts had stashed his evocation.
A diver holds a priest head carved in granite. HILTI FOUNDATION
The Greek historian Herodotus relates the existence of a large temple in Thonis-Heraklion, who first visited Hercules and later Helena next to Paris before the Trojan war erupted in the 5th century BC. Four hundred years later, also by his street quarters the geographer Strabo. Canopus, on the other hand, the poet Nicander located in the death of Canopus, the pilot of the boat of King Menelaus after suffering the bite of a Viper in the arenas of Thonis. His tragedy would end up bequeathing your name to the paramo. Excavations of the last decade, which are usually held before the ravages of summer, have gone to recomposing written fragments that had survived the shipwreck.
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"There is a sort of dialogue between the available ancient texts and our discoveries. Sometimes documents direct the direction of our surveys; "others, the results of our archaeological work explain texts and even provide new information about the rites that had not even been documented», detailed Goddio, founder and President of the European Institute of underwater archaeology and director of the Foundation for the Nautical Archaeology of East Asia. Their campaigns have been recovered from the bottom of the sea a real fortune. «Our database has more than 16,000 objects inventoried. It is true that some correspond to monuments or fabulous statues and many other ceramic fragments. However, often some of these small parts can provide very valuable information about the site».