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Ancient Alexandria

Updated on February 5, 2013

Lost City's Underwater Remains

For hundreds of years, the city of Alexandria was the golden capital of Greece. Bearing one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World as her beacon to sailors for a hundred miles, the Lighthouse of Alexandria on Pharos, she was a haven for fishermen, Hebrews, Greeks and their gods.

Before the discovery and development of the city by Alexander the Great, the area was the village of Rhakotis. It was likely a fishing village, but the significance of Rhakotis is the subject of some debate. While the Greek claim the city as historically "Greek", there is evidence it may have more of an Egyptian history prior to Greek rule, as the city of Rhakotis.

After the fall of Greece, the furthermost point of the city, which had been the quarters of Cleopatra VII, gradually fell into the sea. A series of earthquakes and tidal waves left this entire section of the city underwater, where it lay for many centuries. Only in recent years have the remains been explored.

Lawrence Alma-Tadema: Antony and Cleopatra (1885, Oil on panel. 65.5 x 92 cm)
Lawrence Alma-Tadema: Antony and Cleopatra (1885, Oil on panel. 65.5 x 92 cm)

Finding Cleopatra's Lair

Underwater diving equipment and satellite technology helped French Explorer and Archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team to discover the lost portion of ancient Alexandria in 1994.

The team first had to map the site using sophisticated equipment and painstakingly go through the 5.5 acre site inch by inch. To make matters even more difficult, some of the artifacts were found on top of one another.

While some of the artifacts have been removed and are being shown on exhibitions around the world, others remain where they have been for the past 2,000 or more years. There are plans underway to build the world's first underwater museum at the site with funding from the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO.

Photo: Lawrence Alma-Tadema: Antony and Cleopatra (1885, Oil on panel. 65.5 x 92 cm)

Ancient Alexandria - With the Lighthouse out front

anxient Alexandria
anxient Alexandria

The Lighthouse of Alexandria was the crowning point of the city. This is how it would have been depicted not long after it was completed, during the latter years of reign of Ptolomen, King of Egypt (323 BC - 283 BC)

Map of the Underwater Artifacts as they Lay

Map of Ancient Alexandria
Map of Ancient Alexandria

For nearly ten months, the team collected data on each piece, which all became part of one huge computerized database. Three types of information were recorded for each registered block - written, drawn, photo and/or film.

Book 4, Homer's Odyssey

on the Bay of Rhakotis:

"Therein is a harbor with good anchorage,

whence men launch the shapely ships into the sea"

The Cleopatra Conspiracy - Was she a Murderer?

Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra, 1934
Claudette Colbert as Cleopatra, 1934

We know her own life ended in tragedy, but what about the tragic deaths of those in her family, her siblings - or would be "heirs"? It seems they all fell to a similar tragic fate. Was that too at the hands (or from the rule of) Cleopatra herself?

Pharos Lighthouse - Early Greek Drawing

Pharos 4
Pharos 4

Dedicated by the architect: "Sostratos of Cnidus, son of Dexiphanes, to the savior gods, for sailors"

"As Alexander was sleeping, he saw a remarkable vision...an island in the stormy sea off Egypt...they call it Pharos."

The Greek biographer Plutarch on Alexander the Great's choosing Rhakotis as the location to build his great city

The Back Story on Cleopatra - and the Exhibition in Cincinnati

Antony and Cleopatra - Business Relationship? Or True Love?

To seal a contract with a sexual relationship was not uncommon for the time. Did Antony and Cleopatra really have a romantic relationship? Or were they merely business "partners"?

Elizabeth Taylor plays the immortal Cleopatra with the class she was so known for, and the gorgeous Richard Burton is her perfect Antonio....

Cleopatra (1963)
Cleopatra (1963)

One of the first cinematic depictions of the story, told from the side of our heroine - Cleopatra of Alexandria!

 

Antony and Cleopatra - A Tragedy by William Shakespeare

Scenery and character alternating between sensual, imaginative Alexandria (Cleopatra) and the more pragmatic, austere Rome (Antony). Story based on Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives

Discovering a Lost Empire

This is an evolving story. If you hear of something new you would like for me to add to this lens, I welcome your suggestions!

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    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      This is fascinating! Well presented, and I think I would like to go visit.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      This is fascinating! Well presented, and I think I would like to go visit.

    • rob-hemphill profile image

      Rob Hemphill 4 years ago from Ireland

      This would be a very interesting place to visit, I remember when they made the discovery we followed it closely in the media.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 4 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Very interesting, Thanks.

    • profile image

      Lens_Directory 5 years ago

      I love to read books and pages about Ancient Alexandria. It was a really intresting place and a lot of books have been written about it.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      Great lens! I added this to related lenses on my baalbek trilithon lens. Thanks for writing this.

    • profile image

      VillaDejaBlue 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We missed visiting this place when we were in Egypt.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We missed visiting this place when we were in Egypt.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 6 years ago

      I am also very intrigued by those ancient and prosperous civilizations and cities. Great lens, thank you!! :)

    • profile image

      termit_bronx 6 years ago

      I just love ancient cities. Great lens! :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Ancient Alexandria continues to let go of some of her mysteries and each one stirs our interest and fascination once again!

    • adamfrench profile image

      adamfrench 6 years ago

      Impressive lens, thumbs up