10 Lost Underwater Cities of the Ancient World

underwater-ruins-shicheng-ancient-city-china-6 (Image: Chinese National Geography via china.org.cn)

There’s a reason that stories of Atlantis and other lost civilisations have long captured our imaginations. The idea that an entire city could just vanish beneath the waves is a terrifying thought. While these lost underwater cities aren’t the mythical Atlantis, that’s exactly what happened to them, and their haunting remains have been documented by divers and archaeologists.

Underwater Cities in Egypt: Thonis-Heracleion

Thonis-Heracleion-Egypt-lost-underwater-city (Image: The Cosmos News via YouTube)

It was called Heracleion by the ancient Greeks and Thonis by the ancient Egyptians. Once situated on the northern coast of Egypt and established as one of the most important port cities of the Mediterranean, this lost underwater city has been sitting at the bottom of the sea that it once served. Recently excavated after 1,200 years underwater, Thonis-Heracleion has been slowly giving up its secrets.

Thonis-Heracleion-Egypt-lost-underwater-city-3 (Image: The Cosmos News via YouTube; ancient underwater city of Thonis-Heracleion)

Artifacts brought to the surface indicate the ancient city was once a massive trading center and bustling port city. More than 60 ancient shipwrecks have been found in the immediate area, along with hundreds of anchors, coins from across the sea, tablets inscribed in ancient Greek and Egyptian, and vast sculptures that were thought to have once adorned the city’s temples. Those temples have also remained eerily intact, complete with offerings and votives once given to the ancient Egyptian gods.

Thonis-Heracleion-Egypt-lost-underwater-city-2 (Image: The Cosmos News via YouTube)

The abandoned underwater city was once the official port-of-entry for Egypt, somewhere around 664 to 332 BC. Now, Thonis-Heracleion is far from the coastline – the first concrete evidence of the civilization was found 6.5 km off the current coast.

Thonis-Heracleion-Egypt-lost-underwater-city-4 (Image: The Cosmos News via YouTube; lost underwater city of Thonis-Heracleion)

Like many underwater cities, the conditions that the artifacts have been submerged in for centuries have preserved them incredibly well. What hasn’t been determined exactly is how the lost city ended up at the bottom of the sea, although it’s thought to have sunk after an earthquake. Built on the already precarious series of deltas reaching out into the sea, the best guess is that the already questionably stable sand and clay eventually gave way after a tremor.


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About the author: Debra Kelly




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