Fast Galleys Were Used Widely Throughout Ancient Egypt
The shipwreck shows a ship that is called a fast galley. This was a type of vessel using a large sail and a team of oarsmen to propel it to relatively high speeds. This particular fast galley is 82 feet long and has a flat keel, which is a common feature for vessels that navigated the Nile during the times of Ancient Egypt. According to experts, the galley sank when it was hit by huge blocks from the temple of Amun, which was destroyed completely during a second-century calamity — probably an earthquake. The ancient fast galley is now beneath 16 feet of rubble and clay from the temple.
An Ancient Burial Ground Was Also Found at the Sunken City Site
At Thonis-Heracleion, the archaeologists also found a burial ground that was used some 2,400 years ago. Elaborately decorated pottery and a golden amulet were discovered there, and one piece of pottery even had images of waves on it. The gold amulet depicts the Egyptian god Bes who was associated with fertility and childbirth. The burial ground was covered with a large pile of rocks called a tumulus. This practice was often used in ancient Egypt and other parts of the world to mark burials.
The ancient sunken city where the recent discoveries were made was called Heracleion by the ancient Greeks and Thonis by the ancient Egyptians, which is why modern-day archaeologists refer to it as Thonis-Heracleion. A series of earthquakes gradually toppled the city into the sea over the centuries until it was completely submerged nearly 1,000 years ago. It was rediscovered by archaeologists back in 1999-2000, and its remains have been studied by experts ever since.