The modern town of Abu Qir is located on the western tip of Aboukir Bay on the Mediterranean coast 19km from Alexandria. Ancient Greek authors describe two cities decadent, Canopus and Heraklion, located by the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile now extinct. Cities, which began to decline in fortune after the founding of Alexandria in 331 BC, were mysteriously swallowed by the sea. A multitude of ancient texts has attempted to document the cities. 


Herodotus visited Canopus during the 5th century BC, when Strabo visited Heraklion centuries later than the beginning of the first millennium and Seneca, writing at the same time, condemned the cities as self-indulgent and corrupt. The wealth of cities seems to have derived originally from the collection of taxes on goods entering the ports of the coast to be shipped upriver. 

Abu Qir

Abu Qir

The famous "Decree of Canopus," published by the priests gathered at Canopus in 238 BC in honor of Ptolemy III Euergetes was found at Tanis by Karl Lepsius offered a trilingual text that has been invaluable for the study of the ancient Egyptian language, comparable to the Rosetta Stone.
Greek legend states that the city of Canopus was named after the pilot Homeric Menelaus, who have stayed in Heraklion, after the Trojan War. 


Similarly, the city of Heraklion, according to Herodotus, was named after Heracles, who was also the famous Homeric only. Canopus residents were known to have worshiped human head jars as the personification of Osiris and shown some Roman coins of Alexandria mint, an image that has provided early Egyptologists with a name for the pots used for human head the burial of the viscera during mummification process. 


However, it is not true that "canopic jars, found in the tombs had something to do with the city of Canopus, but the name stuck. For many centuries, we became aware of the existence of Canopus and Heraklion and the Aboukir area was visited by many travelers since the 18th century, following the shore, in the hope of finding evidence cities in ruins. 


Sunken cities have long captured the imagination of travelers worldwide and Canopus is not an exception, but until recently we had no documented evidence of this terrible disaster could have happened to cause the sudden and complete these cities, probably around the 8th century AD. Speculation by researchers has been changed - earthquake, flood livelihood collapse, and rising sea levels have been suggested.

The spectacular discovery of the ruins almost intact Eastern Canopus and Herakleion was announced in 1999 following an expedition by a team of French underwater archaeologists led by Franck Goddio.
Since then, with the help of the latest methods of submarine technology, the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Antiquities have made many exciting discoveries for several seasons of diving off the coast of the Bay of Aboukir.

The enormous importance of this site lies in its existence before the founding of Alexandria and monuments that have been largely preserved, unlike the underwater ruins in Alexandria Bay.
There are many years of work ahead for divers, archaeologists and historians that make up the international team, which will undoubtedly reveal much information about the economic and cultural relations that existed between Egypt and Greece during the later Pharaonic period.


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