Ancient Ptolemeic Era Pylon found in Sea off Alexandria - The Best from Greece

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Posted on: 18/Dec/2009

Submerged Ptolemaic-era pylon raised from Alexandria sea.

A granite pylon from a Ptolemaic-era temple, found submerged in sea off Alexandria in Egypt, has been transported from the city's Eastern Harbour to the Kom El Dikka Laboratory for conservation and study. The transfer occurred on Thursday, in the presence of Egyptian officials, representatives of the Consulate General of Greece, foreign archaeological missions and the media.

The nine-ton pylon was raised and transported to the Eastern Harbour earlier this week by archaeologists working with the Greek Mission. It is believed to have formed part of the temple of the 'Hellenized' goddess Isis Lochias that stood in the Royal Ptolemaic quarters, a part of the palace complex dated to the era of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony.

At a press conference held at Fort Quaid Bey, the site of the ancient Pharos or lighthouse, Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny and the Secretary General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities Dr. Zahi Hawass explained the importance of this massive architectural element for the history of Alexandria.

After a period of conservation that may last between six and eight months, the pylon is destined to go on display at the new Maritime Museum's special section for Underwater Archaeology in Stanley.

The head of the Hellenic Institute of Ancient and Medieval Alexandrian Studies Dr. Harry Tzalas said the find confirmed that Greek architectural elements in Ptolemaic Alexandria co-existed and often merged with Pharaonic traditions, in the same way that the cult of Isis Lochias would spread throughout the Graeco-Roman world.

Hawass has also asked the Greek Mission to prepare a report on another over-sized architectural monument found by Greek archaeologists near the pylon at a depth of eight metres. This is a 15-ton block of red granite that was either the architrave or threshold of a monumental door, possibly a part of the Mausoleum of Cleopatra VII, which may be raised by the Greek mission during 2010.

The recovery of the submerged pylon required a special concession from Egyptian authorities, which had banned the raising of submerged antiquities from the Alexandrian sea in 2002 due to a lack of museum space and conservation resources.

Dr. Hawass said that the exception was made because the pylon was a unique archaeological find, being the only monolithic pylon in all of Egypt and in Alexandria and because it marked the location of the temple of Isis Lochias, which stood in the immediate vicinity of Cleopatra's Mausoleum.


photo reuters


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