|Location||near Alexandria, Egypt|
Heracleion (Greek: Ἡράκλειον), also known as Thonis (Θῶνις), was an ancient Egyptian city near Alexandria whose ruins are located in Abu Qir Bay, currently 2.5 km off the coast, under 30 feet of water. Its legendary beginnings go back to as early as the 12th century BC, and it is mentioned by ancient Greek historians. Its importance grew especially during the waning days of the Pharaohs—the late period, when it was Egypt's main port for international trade and collection of taxes.
Heracleion was originally built on some adjoining islands in the Nile Delta, and was intersected by canals. It possessed a number of harbours and anchorages, was the sister city of Naucratis, and was superseded by Alexandria.
It was believed that Paris and Helen of Troy were stranded here on their flight from the jealous Menelaus, before the Trojan war began or that Menelaus and Helen had stayed there, accommodated by the noble Egyptian Thon and Polydamna. Also, it was believed that Heracles himself had visited the city, and that the city had gained its name from him.
—British Museum, 2013
The city was mentioned by the ancient historians Diodorus (1.19.4) and Strabo (17. 1.16). Herodotus was told that Thonis was the warden of the Canopic mouth of the Nile: Thonis arrested Alexander (Paris), the son of Priam, because Alexander had abducted Helen of Troy and taken much wealth.
Heracleion is also mentioned in the Twin steles of Decree of Nectanebo I (originally known as the 'Stele of Naukratis'), which specify that one tenth of the taxes on imports passing through the town of Thonis/Herakleion were to be given to the sanctuary of Neith of Sais. The city is also mentioned in the Decree of Canopus honoring Pharaoh Ptolemy III.
The city of Heracleion was also the site of the celebration of the ‘mysteries of Osiris' each year during the month of Khoiak. The god in his ceremonial boat was brought in procession from the temple of Amun in that city to his shrine in Canopus.
The city sank in the 3rd or 2nd century BC, probably due to liquefaction of the silts on which it was built following earth tremors. The ruins submerged in the sea were located by the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio in 2000. Until then, the scholars were not sure if Heracleion and Thonis were in fact one and the same city.
- "Heracleion Photos: Lost Egyptian City Revealed After 1,200 Years Under Sea" The Huffington Post
- Stephanus of Byzantium. "Θῶνις". Ethnika kat' epitomen (in Greek).
- Naukratis: a city and trading port in Egypt, British Museum
- Herodotus, Histories, 2.113-115
- PDF file Research by Franck Goddio
- Anne Burton, Diodorus Siculus, Book 1: A Commentary. BRILL, 1972 ISBN 9004035141 p105
- "Lost city of Heracleion gives up its secrets". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- Goddio, Franck. "Heracleion". Sunken civilisation. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Egypt's sunken treasures, exhibition at the Grand Palais.|
- "Spectacular finds of lost city revealed". News. BBC. 7 June 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- "Searching for Sunken Cities". Ancient Egypt Magazine. Jul–Aug 2000.
- "Sunken Egyptian city reveals 1,200-year-old secrets". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2013-06-06.
- Photos of underwater treasures of Heracleion (French text)