The Underwater Archaeologist Who Surfaced Not One, But Two Ancient Egyptian Metropolitans

The first time he uncovered an Egyptian artifact, archaeologist Franck Goddio was at the bottom of the Alexandria harbor. He had exhumed 5 hoofs of slime to find a bench-sized blocking of blood-red granite, and, as the water cleared, he spoke the hieroglyphics inscribed on the stone through his scuba disguise: Life Forever. For Goddio, it was transformative. A beautiful meaning from the past, he says.

It was a Raiders of the Lost Ark moment, and its not Goddios simply one. He was an financial adviser to the UN before( metaphorically) clambering out his office window to follow his real affection for underwater archaeology, and since then he has obtained everything from shipwrecked galleons to a container that may draw the earliest known reference to Christ. And, guided by the work of ancient writers like Herodotus, he has discovered not one but two submerged ancient Egyptian cities, Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion.

The metropolitans had been lost to history after mysteriously sinking beneath the sea. But while they may have once been hangouts for historic luminaries like Helen of Troy, spotting and unearthing the areas has been more gritty than glamorous. For all the high tech equipment Goddio used to situate the ruinings( side-scan sonar, nuclear-resonance magnetometer ), excavation is a thorough process of dredging away the sediment, canvassing the place, and diving into the( often polluted) liquid to draw things to the surface.

Luckily for us, Goddio shares Indiana Jones opinion on where artifacts belong: This May the British Museum will put his best knows back in the public eye for the first time since about AD 800.

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