Before the flood by Carolyn Stewart | The New Criterion

Today, feluccas and motorboats bob in the waters of Egypt’s Abu Qir Bay near Alexandria. A mere twenty-two feet below the water’s surface, the ancient cities of Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion have lain silent for millennia. At this exact location two thousand years earlier, boatmen sailed by massive temples and a towering pink-granite colossus. The smiling statue of the god Hapi held a plate of bread to his chest, alluding to Egypt’s status as the breadbasket of the Mediterranean and the god’s role in ensuring the annual flooding of the Nile.

Within a few centuries, the stone god would be underwater and forgotten, along with the cities that worshipped him. The Canopic Branch of the Nile, once a major artery connecting Greek trading posts to Egypt via Canopus and Thonis-Heracleion, itself eroded away into the sea. Twelve hundred years later, the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (ieasm) made the unprecedented discovery of an immense underwater field of ruins at the sites of these sunken cities.
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