Alexandria: The city Cleopatra called home
ALEXANDRIA, EGYPT - June 2, 2010 (WPVI) -- Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, was founded by Alexander the Great on the Mediterranean Sea in 332 B.C.
For centuries, it has stood at the crossroads of Egyptian, Greek and Roman cultures. Here in 51 B.C. Cleopatra of legend became ruler of Egypt.
The city today is a modern metropolis, gritty, urban, bursting with life, and is now looking to the future.
In fact, there are no signs of Cleopatra on land. Her tomb has never been found. Her images were all erased by conquerors.
Ancient historians wrote of three fabled cities on this coast from which the pharaohs ruled, but no evidence ever existed, until now.
Cleopatra's royal kingdom lies under the sea.
Renowned archaeologist Frank Goddio and his team have discovered Cleopatra's sunken city just off the coast of Alexandria.
Goddio and his international team began mapping the ocean floor in the area in 1991. Six years later, they discovered the first of three ancient cities just off the coast.
"The very first week we started to find sphinxes and statues, but everything was buried under the sediment and it was far away from the seashore which nobody thought it could be possible," Goddio said.
Just imagine what the divers see in the ancient underwater world: sphinxes, statues, palaces, and temples to the gods.
Historians believe a series of natural disasters, earthquakes and tidal waves, first took down the temples and monuments and then covered them by the sea.
Each day divers discover ancient artifacts dating from as early as 800 B.C.
The underwater work isn't easy. The same sediment that preserved these cities makes it very difficult for the divers to see.
"Underwater you have the waves. You have the swell and you have also the animals which come and disturb your sight," Goddio said.
Goddio's team brings the smallest finds to the surface. Some larger statues have also been brought up from the ocean floor and carefully restored.
This week, many of the ancient artifacts once underwater will go on display here in Philadelphia looking just as they did when Cleopatra once ruled.
"Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" opens at the Franklin Institute on June 5th. Now you'll be able to see firsthand the artifacts dating from Cleopatra's time and long before.
egypt, special reports, sarah bloomquist
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