Egypt: Hidden City found beneath Alexandria – Archaeology World
Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in the quest to conquer the world, but it seems that Alexandria was not the first city on the famous Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
A team in Smithsonian has discovered signs of an urban settlement on the site seven centuries before Alexander appeared in 331 B.C.
The city he created, Alexandria, is long considered to be a resource of mystery and astonishment, once the biggest in the world and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – Pharos – 396-foot-high lighthouse.
But little was known about the site in pre-Alexander times other than a fishing village called Rhakotis was located there.
Coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History said his team’s work suggested a much larger community at Rhakotis than had previously been believed.
The discoveries, reported in the August issue of GSA Today, the journal of the Geological Society of America, came by accident when his team drilled underwater in Alexandria’s harbor, Stanley said.
Scientists were extracting 3-inch-wide sticks of core sediment 18 feet long under the seabed to try to understand what happened to cause later structures from the Greek and Roman eras to become submerged.
When his team opened the cores, they found ceramic shards from Middle and Upper Egypt, a lot of organic plant matter and heavy minerals.
Radiocarbon dating showed the items to be from around 1000 B.C., including lead found in the cores.
“This was proof that there was significant metallurgy and human activity going on back 1,000 years B.C.,” Stanley said.
“Alexandria did not just grow out from a barren desert but was built atop an active town. … Alexander the Great did not come first to set up Alexandria, there was already something there.”