Diver examining the limestone blocks of the Isis temple.
Divers today explored the submerged ruins of a palace and temple complex from which Cleopatra ruled, swimming over heaps of limestone blocks hammered into the sea by earthquakes and tsunamis more than 1,600 years ago.
According to the Associated Press, the international team is painstakingly excavating one of the richest underwater archaeological sites in the world and retrieving stunning artifacts from the last dynasty to rule over ancient Egypt before the Roman Empire annexed it in 30 BC.
Using advanced technology, the team is surveying ancient Alexandria's Royal Quarters, encased deep below the harbor sediment, and confirming the accuracy of descriptions of the city left by Greek geographers and historians more than 2,000 years ago.
Since the early 1990s, the topographical surveys have allowed the team, led by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio, to conquer the harbor's extremely poor visibility and excavate below the seabed. They are discovering everything from coins and everyday objects to colossal granite statues of Egypt's rulers and sunken temples dedicated to their gods.
“It's a unique site in the world,” said Goddio, who has spent two decades searching for shipwrecks and lost cities below the seas.
Tuesday's dive explored the sprawling palace and temple complex where Cleopatra, the last of Egypt's Greek-speaking Ptolemaic rulers, seduced the Roman general Marc Antony before committing suicide upon their defeat by Octavian, the future Roman Emperor Augustus.
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