Sunken artifact reveals Pharaonic influence

Fri Dec 18, 2009 10:52am EST
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By Marwa Awad

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Egyptian archaeologists pulled a red granite ruin from the seabed near Cleopatra's sunken palace this week that experts said showed the influence of pharaonic design well into Greek and Roman rule.

Dating to 30 BC, near the end of the Hellenistic era, the 9-tonne, 2.25-meter long block was once part of a temple dedicated to Isis, an Egyptian goddess who was later adopted by the Greeks and Romans.

The block's pharaonic style indicated the influence of pharaonic architecture at the end of Cleopatra's rule and on the cusp of Roman supremacy, said Hary Tazlaz, head of the Greek mission that discovered the ruins in 1998.

"The pylon is a typically Egyptian piece of architecture," Tazlaz told Reuters. "The architecture of Alexandria in Hellenistic times was not a totally Greek architecture. It was a Greek dynasty but used pharaonic architecture."

That the ruin was part of a temple used during Cleopatra's reign indicated that pharaonic culture continued through the last moments of Greek rule and even into Roman times, he said.


Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosni and chief archaeologist Zahi Hawass looked on as divers guided a crane underwater and hoisted the granite ruin onshore on Thursday.

The block was originally discovered 8 meters below the water to the east of Cape Lochias, the royal district of the sunken city. Tazlaz said the temple of Isis itself "was very near touching the mausoleum of Cleopatra."   Continued...

<p>Workers direct the retrieval of an ancient Egyptian granite tower that was found in the Mediterranean Sea, at Alexandria's eastern harbour December 17, 2009. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>