Tuesday, December 22, 2009

In the field: Discovery in Alexandria


Press release (with photo):

On Thursday, the Minister of Culture, Farouk Hosni, and the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Dr. Zahi Hawass, witnessed the extraction of a red granite tower, originally part of a pylon, from the Mediterranean seabed at the archaeological site of Alexandria’s eastern harbor.

Hosni described the pylon’s tower as unique among Alexandria’s antiquities. The Minister explained that it was discovered in 1998, along with 400 other artifacts, by a Greek archaeological mission in collaboration with divers from the Underwater Archaeology Department in Alexandria while conducting a comprehensive archaeological survey along the coastal area of Qaitbey. Hosni added that the tower is 2,25 meters tall, weighs 9 tones, and is cut from a single piece of red granite.

Hawass announced that although the SCA has prohibited the removal of submerged artifacts since 2002, the tower is considered an exception – it is intended as the centerpiece for the future Underwater Museum to be constructed in the Stanley area of Alexandria. The museum will exhibit over 200 objects taken from the seabed of Alexandria’s eastern harbor and from Abu Qir.

Hawass explained that the SCA has prohibited the extraction of submerged pieces because on the one hand, the SCA is conducting an extensive archaeological and cultural project with UNESCO, studying all the procedures necessary to build a new underwater museum in Alexandria. Visitors will be able to enjoy an underwater tour walking along special tunnels among the different sunken artifacts. On the other hand, extracting further pieces would require a great amount of time as would the cleaning the objects from accumulated salts.

According to Harry Tzalas who headed the 1998 mission, the tower was part of an entrance to a temple dedicated to Isis Lochias located on Cape Lochias. According to ancient sources, Cleopatra’s Mausoleum was near this temple – a door lintel and a coin bearing the image of a similar tower were among objects discovered in 1998.

At the eastern harbor is where Mark Antony died after being defeated by Octavian. It is also where Cleopatra tragically ended her life. However, we do not think the couple was buried here.

eTurboNews (Hazel Heyer)

On December 17, Egypt’s Culture Minister, Farouk Hosni, and the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), Dr. Zahi Hawass, unveil yet again an important find in Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

The precious artifact is to be the centerpiece in the future Underwater Museum to be constructed in the Stanley area of Alexandria. The museum is set to display over 200 objects excavated from the Mediterranean over the past several years.

Media attending an international press conference at the Qait Bey Citadel on the eastern harbor in Alexandria - Egypt’s historic city on the Med will be given the first view of the relic. Both Hosni and Hawass will unveil a unique, sunken artifact from the Mediterranean’s seabed. This piece is said to be a granite pylon tower of Isis temple found beside the Cleopatra Mausoleum off the royal quarter at the eastern harbor.

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