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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Mystery of Cleopatra's Palace in Alexandria


Till 1997, no one was sure what Cleopatra's Palace actually looked like. Many architects have tried to imagine the palace by drawing. That used to be the closest we could come to seeing her magnificent palace. However, ambitious excavations had begun in the bay of modern Alexandria to know more about this mystery.
In 1997, an archeological team from France discovered the drowned port of Alexandria and the two cities of Herakleion and Canopus just off the coast of Alexandria, in the Mediterranean Sea. This discovery started the underwater excavations of what was the city of Cleopatra. A crushing tidal wave caused by an earthquake covered this area from about 1,200 years ago.
The growing excavations have uncovered hundreds of artifacts, including huge statues of kings and queens and of Hapi, the god of the Nile flood. These remains, as well as smaller statues and architectural splinters including columns and architraves, hint that the regal palace and gardens were rising close to the port.
As excavations have preceded, the location of Cleopatra’s palace, Antony’s palace, and a temple have been located and finally the setting of their romantic story and tragic decease has been recognized.
In 2006, a suggestion was put forward concerning an offshore underwater museum to show the city of Cleopatra. Many of the objects found underwater are left there in order to keep them; when removed and desiccated, these items could loose. The suggested museum includes a plexi-glass tunnel allowing the visitor to walk underwater on the steps of Cleopatra, Mark Antony, and Julius Caesar.
Smaller objects like gems and coins have already been removed to stop theft, and these will be shown separately in an on-shore building.

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