Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cleopatra's Underwater Palace in Alexandria,Egypt

In the mid fifth century A.D. the Royal quarters in Alexandria's harbors sank beneath the waves. The Palaces and temples on the islands did not spontaneously sink. A series of tidal waves and earthquakes had destroyed the islands and their royal buildings. At least twenty-three earthquakes shook the islands between 320 and 1303 AD, with the worst of the bunch occurring in 365 AD. Over a period of sixteen centuries, the royal quarters sank twenty feet beneath the sea. Inch by inch the city where Marc Antony fell on his sword and Cleopatra died to the bite of an Asp sank forever. Today, what were temples, houses, palaces, streets, jewelry, statues, and amphorae litter the floor of the harbor. Over time, sand and other debris that piled up on the harbor floor hid them. More recently, mass amounts of sewage have been pumped into the harbor and now further cover the royal rubble. Many historians have theorized on the size and position of the sunken quarters of Cleopatra. However, no one ever knew what the positions of the islands, which held Cleopatra and King Ptolmey actually were. No one knew that is until now...

Six-teen centuries after the royal quarters sank beneath the waters of the harbor an underwater explorer, Frank Goddio began exploring the islands that had been little more than legend. Goddio and his team of expert divers and marine archaeologists are now diving into the past. Already Goddio and his team have confirmed ancient reports that the island of Antirhodos was paved completely in limestone blocks and covered with buildings. Another remarkable find was the now-submerged peninsula that held Mark Antony's personal sanctuary of Timonium. It was not easy locating all of these relics for not only are the various buildings and artifacts covered by silt and sewage but all of the pollution and additional sewage limit visibility to a few feet at best. Another problem for Goddio was actually receiving clearance to dive into the harbor. This area is considered top security by the Egyptian military, so  receiving permission to dive took our esteemed underwater explorer from 1980 to 1992 which is when he could finally start the dives. Frank Goddio had been dreaming about what he would find for twelve years. What Goddio has found so far includes a large granite head that is possibly of the Emperor Augustus, Two Sphinxes, a statue of a Priest of Isis (an Egyptian Goddess) holding a Canopic Jar, and a wrecked ship dating back to 90 BC. Presently plans are being made to build network of plastic tubes and bubbles from which visitors to Alexandria can see the under water city for themselves. Many nautical archaeologists strongly disagree with this idea. However as always no one knows what the future holds for the ancient city.
 source: @copyright
My Note: All rights reserved in all of these articles and photos to the writers' sources. 

MYTH: There was only one Cleopatra.
FACT: The Cleopatra we are familiar with is Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator. There are at least seven other known “Cleopatras” who lived during the Ptolemaic dynasty in which Cleopatra VII ruled, including her daughter, Cleopatra Selene II.
MYTH: Cleopatra was an Egyptian.

FACT: Cleopatra was of Greek descent. She was born during winter 69-68 BC, probably in Alexandria. She belonged to the Lagides dynasty, a dynasty of Macedonian (North Greece) origin, who ruled Egypt since the end of the IV century BC. The founder of her dynasty, Ptolemy I, served as a general to Alexander the Great and became ruler of Egypt after Alexander’s death. The Ptolemies then established Alexandria, Egypt as the center of culture and commerce in the ancient world. This is where Cleopatra VII later ruled and lived in the royal palace.
MYTH: Cleopatra was a seductress.

FACT: Popular culture portrays Cleopatra as a temptress, seducing Julius Caesar and becoming his mistress, then later luring Mark Antony. However, Cleopatra had her children and her country’s best interest in mind. At that time, Rome was the greatest superpower of the Mediterranean. Called the Imperator, Julius Caesar was a victorious commander and a very influential leader. Rome and Egypt had an uneasy alliance. Rome needed Egypt’s wheat. Egypt needed Rome’s protection. To secure power, Cleopatra navigated an alliance through her union with Caesar. After Caesar’s death, Cleopatra entered into an alliance with Mark Antony, one of the three rulers of Rome. Later, when he was involved in a power struggle with Caesar’s nephew Octavian, Antony and Cleopatra joined forces to attempt to control both Rome and Egypt.

MYTH: Cleopatra took her own life because she was heartbroken by her lover’s death.
FACT: Egypt fell to the Romans after a crushing defeat of Cleopatra’s navy by Octavian’s Roman forces. Mark Antony committed suicide shortly thereafter. It was rumored that Cleopatra would be captured by Octavian and paraded through the streets of Rome in shackles as a war prisoner by Octavian. Nearly two weeks after Mark Antony took his own life, she followed suit, likely in part to prevent the shame of public humiliation.

MYTH: Cleopatra died from the bite of a poisonous snake.
FACT: While legend says that she died from the bite of an asp, a poisonous snake, we still today are not sure what killed Cleopatra. The snake bite may have been an invention of the Romans in an attempt to defame her memory and connect her to something with vile and evil connotations. Cleopatra was very knowledgeable about poisons, writing books on the subject. Other theories suggest that she may have ingested a poisonous fig or applied a toxic substance to her skin.

Source: Information based on National Geographic Channel’s Egypt Unwrapped: Cleopatra, which first aired on December 28, 2008. @copyright


After fourteen years of electronic probing and underwater archaeological exploration, the outline of the famous Portus Magnus ("Great Port") and the 
sites of the main monuments have been clearly established. Here 
the land surface and ancient port infrastructures of the Portus Magnus have been projected (in yellow) onto a satellite image of modern Alexandria.

Below Left: A diver is eye-to-eye with a sphinx made out of black granite. The face of the sphinx is believed to represent Ptolemy XII, father of the famous Cleopatra VII. The sphinx was found during excavations in the ancient harbor of Alexandria. Below Right: A diver of Goddio's team is illuminating hieroglyphic inscriptions of a door jamb's fragment, discovered in Alexandria's ancient Great Harbor and dating from the 26th dynasty (Apries, 6th century BC).
© Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photos: Jerome Delafosse @copyright

Below pic: The torso of a statue of a pharaoh is being raised. The colossal statue is of red granite and measures over 16.4 ft. It was found close to the big temple of sunken Heracleion.
© Franck Goddio / Hilti Foundation, Photo: Christoph Gerigk

AP PHOTO/BEN CURTIS and source: 

About The Franklin Institute
Located in the heart of Philadelphia,
 The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning. As Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. Below Left: Students come face-to-face with the Sphinx of Ptolemy XII, the father of Cleopatra. Located in the heart of Philadelphia, The Franklin Institute is a renowned and innovative leader in the field of science and technology learning. As Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, it is dedicated to creating a passion for learning about science by offering access to hands-on science education. Below Left: Students come face-to-face with the Sphinx of Ptolemy XII, the father of Cleopatra

Acknowledgement: National Geographic,The Franklin Institute,EarthSat NaturalVue © Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation
pictures @copyright