Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cleopatra's lost city

Monument lifted from Cleopatra's underwater city

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt, 12.17.2009
By KATARINA KRATOVAC , Associated Press Writer

Egyptian archaeologists on Thursday lifted an ancient granite temple pylon out of the waters of the Mediterranean, where it had lay for centuries as part of the palace complex of Cleopatra, submerged in Alexandria's harbor.
The pylon, which once stood at the entrance to a temple of Isis, is to be the centerpiece of an ambitious underwater museum planned by Egypt to showcase the sunken city, which is believed to have been toppled into the sea by earthquakes in the 4th century.
Divers and underwater archaeologists used a giant crane and ropes to lift the 9-ton, 7.4-foot-tall pylon, covered with muck and seaweed, out of the murky waters. It was deposited ashore as Egypt's top archaeologist Zahi Hawass and other officials watched.
The temple, dedicated to Isis, a pharaonic goddess of fertility and magic, is at least 2,050 years old, but likely much older, officials said. It was part of a sprawling palace from which the 1st Century B.C. Queen Cleopatra and her predecessors in the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt.
The palace and other buildings and monuments now lay strewn on the seabed in the harbor of Alexandria, the second largest city of Egypt. Archaeologists have been exploring the underwater ruins since the 1990s.
The Isis temple was uncovered by a Greek team in 1998.