Three 2,000-Year-Old Shipwrecks Found Off The Coast Of Egypt Reveal Roman Treasures

The archaeologists say this a votive bark, or boat, depicting the god Osiris. Ministry of Antiquities وزارة الآثار 

Archaeologists have discovered a number of Roman shipwrecks lying on the seabed off the northern coast of Egypt in the harbor city of Alexandria. Among the wreckages, experts have already recovered part of a crystal statuette of a prestigious general and three coins dating back to Rome's first emperor.

Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities announced in a statement on Facebook that they have found three shipwrecks belonging to the Roman era, approximately 2,000 years ago, in the waters around Abu Qir Bay. The dating of the shipwrecks was worked out using gold coins found that depict Rome's first emperor Augustus, aka Octavian, the heir and adopted son of Julius Caesar, who ruled the empire between 27 BCE to 14 BCE.

The head of the crystal statue is believed to depict the Roman general Marcus Antonius, aka Marc Antony, perhaps best known for his love affair with Queen Cleopatra of Egypt, and forever immortalized in William Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Cleopatra also famously had a relationship with Julius Caesar. Antony committed suicide by stabbing himself in 30 BCE after mistakenly believing that Cleopatra had killed herself, so the story goes.

A Roman coin depicting Rome's first emperor Augustus, aka Octavian. Ministry of Antiquities وزارة الآثار 

Along with these Roman-era finds, the expedition found a bark artifact depicting the Egyptian god of Osiris, most typically associated with ideas of the afterlife, the underworld, the dead, transition, and resurrection.

Dr Mostafa Waziri, the head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, also noted that they have reason to believe there’s a fourth ship lurking in the waters nearby that they hope to discover within the coming years.

Over the past decades, Abu Qir Bay (or the Bay of Aboukir) has proved to be a treasure trove of antiquities and relics from the pre-Hellenistic, Hellenistic, and Roman period. The area was once home to numerous settlements, including the lost sunken cities of Heraklion and Menouthis. Back in 2000, an international team of researchers discovered these two cities, describing them as “one of the most exciting finds in the history of marine archaeology.”

"In the ancient world, a major center of various religions and cults existed here," Franck Goddio, a French marine archaeologist who's worked extensively in this area, said in 2000.

"These cities were not only renowned for their riches and lifestyle, but also for their many temples dedicated to the gods Serapis, Isis, and Anubis."

It seems likely that that's where Roman ships carrying gold coins and crystal busts would be heading to. 

The crystal bust thought to be of Roman army commander Marc Antony. Ministry of Antiquities وزارة الآثار 

 [H/T Ahram Online]

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