Second Century B.C.E. Military Vessel Explored

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Divers Discover Ancient Military Vessel in Submerged Egyptian City

by Livia Gershon/Smithsonianmag.com

Divers exploring the sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion, in the Egyptian bay of Abū Qīr, have discovered the remains of a military vessel dated to the second century B.C.E. The ship was moored beside the city’s Temple of Amun when the building collapsed, sinking the boat under the weight of the structure’s large blocks, Reuters reports.

An Egyptian-French mission led by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) found the 80-foot-long ship beneath roughly 16 feet of hard clay, reports Nehal Samir for Daily News Egypt.

The ship’s design reflects a mixture of ancient Egyptian and Greek techniques. Its builders used mortise-and-tenon joints and constructed the vessel partly out of reused wood, suggesting that it was made in Egypt. The ship boasted both oars and a large sail; it had a flat bottom and keel, which would have allowed it to navigate the Nile and the delta where the river meets the Mediterranean Sea.

Franck Goddio, founding president of IEASM, says in a statement that finding intact remains of such ancient, fast ships is very rare. The only comparable Greek-style ship is the Marsala Ship, dated to 235 B.C.E., which archaeologists uncovered in western Sicily in 1971.

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