Franck Goddio

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Franck Goddio (born 1947 in Casablanca, Morocco) is a French underwater archaeologist who, in 2000, discovered the city of Herakleion–Thonis 7 km off the Egyptian shore in Aboukir Bay.[1] He led the excavation of the submerged site of Eastern Canopus and in the ancient harbour of Alexandria (Portus Magnus).[2] He has also excavated junk and ships in the waters of the Philippines, significantly the Spanish Galleon San Diego.


After studying at the École Nationale de la Statistique et de l'Administration Économique in Paris, from which he holds a degree in mathematics and statistics, Franck Goddio held key positions as an advisor to national and international organizations and various governments for over 15 years.

In the early 1980s he decided to focus entirely on underwater archaeology and founded in 1987 the Institut Européen d'archéologie Sous-Marine (IEASM)[3] in Paris. Over many years of experience in detecting and recovering ancient shipwrecks and searching for the remains of sunken cities, Franck Goddio has developed and improved a systematic approach to underwater archaeology. In the last twenty years, Franck Goddio has found or excavated more than fourteen sunken ships of historic importance, which had been resting on the ocean bed for hundreds of years. Among them are junks dating from the 11th to the 15th century, the Spanish galleon San Diego[4] and San José (1694), Napoleon Bonaparte's flagship Orient and two East Indiamen: Griffin (1761) and Royal Captain, lost in 1773.

Franck Goddio adheres to strict archaeological standards[5] during the exploration and excavation phases and works in close co-operation with national and local authorities, leading archaeological experts and institutions. In 2003, in co-operation with Oxford University, the Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology was founded. In 2009, Franck Goddio was appointed a Senior Visiting Lecturer within the School of Archaeology at Oxford University. In the same year he received the decoration of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour (Légion d´Honneur).

Franck Goddio’s research projects have been financed by the Hilti Foundation since 1996. The underwater archaeologist is author of many books, scientific articles and publications where he reports on research projects and excavations. Several TV documentaries have also been produced and aired throughout the world. In addition, various exhibitions have presented the finds and made them accessible to a wide audience.


  • 1986–1988: Griffin (1761) of the British East India Company
  • 1987–1990: Spanish galleon San José (1694)
  • 1990–1994: Spanish galleon San Diego (1600)
  • 1996–2003: Sunken royal quarters of Alexandria’s eastern harbor, Egypt
  • 1997: Royal Captain of the British East India Company[6]
  • 1997: Junk of the Lena shoal with ceramics of the Ming dynasty
  • 1998–1999: Napoleon’s lost fleet from the battle against Admiral Nelson in Aboukir Bay in 1798 and his flagship Orient
  • 2000–2003: the sunken cities of Thônis–Heracleion and Canopus in Aboukir Bay, Egypt.[7]
  • 2002 Junk Santa Cruz with over 10,000 pieces of 15th century porcelain
  • 2003 French slave ship Adelaide, which sank in 1714 off the coast of Cuba
  • 2004 – to day : Further researches and excavations of Egypt’s coast in the Bay of Aboukir on the sites of Eastern Canopus and Heracleion–Thônis, finalisation of the topography of the sites. Continuation of excavation in Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour.[8]

Exhibitions (selection)[edit]

Objects found during excavations directed by Franck Goddio have enriched the national collection of countries where the excavations took place: the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museum of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina National Museum of Alexandria. In accordance with the antiquities authority in the Philippines, objects form Goddio’s excavations were donated to the Museo Naval de Madrid, Guimet Museum (Musée des arts asiatiques-Guimet, France) and the Maritime Museum in Port Louis.

Franck Goddio has also created travelling exhibitions to bring his discoveries to as wide an audience as possible:

Treasures of the San Diego

This is an exhibition of the remains of the Spanish galleon (ref) as well as presentation of the work of the team: archivists, engineers, divers, archaeologists, scientists, illustrators, photographers and cameramen: Paris (Sept. 1994 – Jan. 1995), Madrid (May 1995 – Oct. 1995), New York (Nov. 1996 – Feb. 1997), Berlin (June – Oct. 1997), Manille (Feb. – April 1998).

Egypt’s Sunken Treasures[9]

A selection of nearly 500 of the finest and most historically important artifacts that were unearthed during the excavations in Aboukir Bay and the port of Alexandria was presented in an exhibition which attracted over 2.7 million visitors in Berlin (April–Sept. 2006), Paris (Dec. 2006–March 2007), Bonn (April 2007–Jan. 2008), Madrid (April–Dec. 2008), Turin (Feb.–May 2009) and Yokohama in Japan (June–Sept. 2009).

Cleopatra, The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt[10]

From 2010-2013 a selection of 146 artefacts from Egypt’s Sunken Treasures were on display in the US as part of the exhibition "Cleopatra, The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" at the Franklin Institute Philadelphia, The Cincinnati Museum Center, The Public Museum Milwaukee and the California Science Center Los Angeles.

Bibliography (selection)[edit]

  • Zahi Hawass and Franck Goddio, Cleopatra – The Search for the last Queen of Egypt, National Geographic, Washington D.C. 2010, ISBN 978-1-4262-0545-3
  • Underwater Archaeology in the Canopic Region – The Topography and Excavation of Heracleion–Thonis and East Canopus (1996–2006), Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology, Oxford 2007, ISBN 978-0-9549627-3-9
  • with André Bernand, Sunken Egypt – Alexandria, Arcperiplus, London 2002, ISBN 1-902699-51-3
  • Franck Goddio ed., Egypt’s Sunken Treasures, Prestel, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-7913-3970-2
  • with Peter Lam, Rosemary Scott, Stacey Pierson and Monique Crick, Lost at Sea, Periplus Publishing, London 2002, ISBN 1-902699-13-0
  • Archaeological Survey of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour. In Underwater Archaeology and Coastal Management, Unesco Publishing 2000
  • with Gabrielle Iltis et al., Royal Captain, Periplus Publishing, London 2000, ISBN 1-902699-19-X
  • with Stacey Pierson and Monique Crick, Sunken Treasures of the Lena Cargo, Periplus Publishing, London 2000, ISBN 1-902699-22-X
  • with Evelyne Jay Guyot de Saint Michel, Griffin – On the Route of an Indiaman, Periplus Publishing, London 1999, ISBN 1-902699-03-3
  • with André and Etienne Bernand, Jean Yoyotte et al., Alexandria, the Submerged Royal Quarters, Periplus Publishing, London 1998, ISBN 1-902699-00-9


  • Treasures of The San Diego, rbb 2007
  • Franck Goddio – In Search Of Sunken Treasures, Spiegel TV, 2006
  • Lost Temple To The Gods, Discovery Channel, 2003
  • Sunken Cities, Ancient Earthquakes, Discovery Channel, 2001
  • Treasures Of The Royal Captain, Discovery Channel, 2000
  • Napoleon’s Fleet, Discovery Channel, 1999
  • Cleopatra’s Palace – In Search Of A Legend, Discovery Channel, 1999

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Where Legends lived : Lost for more than a Millenium, Ancient Cities give up their secrets." Sunday Times Magazine August 20, 2000
  2. ^ "Cleopatra’s Play ground revealed", The Times, November 4, 1996
  3. ^ Institut Européen d'archéologie Sous-Marine Website
  4. ^ "San Diego: An Account of Adventure, Deceit, and Intrigue," July 1994, National Geographic, 1994, July Vol 186, N°1
  5. ^ UNESCO film
  6. ^ "Indiaman Wreck yields Chinese Trove",The Times, 12 August 2000.
  7. ^ Time Magazine June 09, 2002 "Lost Cities"
  8. ^ Science Daily April 7, 2013 "New light Shed on Ancient Egyptian Port and Ship Graveyard"
  9. ^ Exhibition "Exhibitions site"
  10. ^ National Geographic: Cleopatra exhibition "Exhibitions site"