Underwater Museum for Egypt Sunken Treasures…

04 Nov

Wow 😀 .. the photos of the underwater museum for Egypt sunken treasures that I saw  in NG were really fantastic. Have heard about Cleopatra’s sunken palace? Now, most of those historical stuff and remains at that archaeological site can be viewed in their natural resting place just by visiting this underwater museum, which if I’m not mistaken according to NG, are still under construction 🙂 .

Whoaaa… I hope I can get a chance to visit this interesting place one day.. 🙂

Oh yeah, here are some descriptions and photos that I uploaded from NG official website about this underwater museum. Gosh.. aren’t they awesome?!!! 😀


Andrew Bossone in Cairo
for National Geographic News
September 16, 2008
1_alexandria_461Cleopatra’s palace sank long ago into the Mediterranean, but visitors to Alexandria, Egypt, may eventually view the complex’s remnants via the world’s first underwater museum.

A site for the museum has been proposed near the New Library of Alexandria, where the famed queen of Egypt is believed to have sheltered herself with her lover Marc Antony before taking her own life.

In early September the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, announced it is funding a team to determine if such a museum would damage the submerged artifacts.

If built, the museum could display treasures and monuments of her palace, which once stood on an island in one of the largest human-made bays in the world but were submerged by earthquakes from the fourth century A.D. onward.

The bay is filled archaeological sunken treasures. In the 1990s archaeologist-divers found thousands of objects: 26 sphinxes, statues bearing gifts to the gods, blocks weighing up to 56 tons, and even Roman and Greek shipwrecks.

Sunken Treasure

The proposed museum could include pieces believed to be from the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.

Archaeologists have mapped more than 2,000 submerged objects in the area of the bay where they believe the lighthouse once stood.

“The wealth of this area is quite impressive,” said Naguib Amin, the site-management expert from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

“Sort of the whole ancient city of Alexandria is lying under the water, just meters away from the shore.”

Fiberglass tunnels would connect aboveground galleries, near the New Library of Alexandria, to the underwater facility, where antiquities would be visible in their natural resting places at the site of Cleopatra’s now sunken palace.

Evoking sails of Nile feluccas (the photo above) and the cardinal directions, the glassy, towering “four points [at center] will be like the [long-gone] Lighthouse of Alexandria that illuminated the [ancient] library and the world,” said architect Jacques Rougerie, who is leading the feasibility study. “I want to do the same thing with this museum.”

2_alexandria_461Shown with a 2008 illustration of the proposed underwater museum (upper center), the Bay of Alexandria once contained Cleopatra’s island palace and the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse (picture), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Both of them were done in centuries ago by earthquakes.

“It will not simply be a museum as such. It is part of a whole vision to revitalize the whole city and its heritage,” said Naguib Amin, the site-management expert from Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The proposed museum’s underwater facility (at bottom in architect Jacques Rougerie’s conception) will be difficult and expensive to build and is the focus of the just launched two-year feasibility study. But planners believe that the benefits of plunging visitors into the historical context of the objects–on the sunken island that once held Cleopatra’s palace–will be worth the trouble.


“When you go to an archaeological site, you have an irreplaceable emotion. It’s not like going to see a movie,” said architect Jacques Rougerie. “It’s like the astronaut who cannot share with other people what it is like to be in space.”

4_alexandria_461Twin sphinxes flank a statue of a priest of Isis amid fallen columns on Alexandria’s sunken island of Antirhodos in a photo from the late 1990s. The statue was raised in 1998 and became part of a traveling exhibition.

Similar tableaux remain on the sunken island, which was found by underwater archaeologists in 1996, and should be visible from the proposed underwater museum.

“Having the museum around the vestiges of these objects will be an emotional and physical experience for the visitors, because they can see them [in place],” architect Rougerie said in September 2008. “You get a better perception and comprehension of what could have happened. …”

6_alexandria_461The marble head of Roman princess Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, rests on sand at the now sunken site of Cleopatra’s Alexandria, Egypt, palace in 1998. Behind the head is a toppled statue of a Ptolemaic, or Greco-Egyptian, king in the guise of Hermes-Thoth, messenger of the gods.




An eroded sphinx, shown in 1998, isn’t much more than a silhouette in the Bay of Alexandria’s dusky waters. Visitors to the proposed underwater museum should be able to view these artifacts in situ, despite the current cloudiness.

5_alexandria_461The murk is driving the proposed museum’s planners to propose covering the monuments, then cleaning the enclosed water.

“Try to picture a glass tube,” said Amin of the Egyptian antiquities agency in September 2008. “You simply put it over the main monuments that we need to highlight.”




7_alexandria_461Rich with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, a reproduction of two granite blocks–found a third of a mile (500 meters) apart in the Bay of Alexandria–helped prove that the pieces originally formed a single tablet.

“Sort of the whole ancient city of Alexandria is lying under the water, just meters away from the shore,” said Amin of the Egyptian antiquities council in September 2008, when the UN established a committee to aid the museum-planning process.

As part of a project to identify and preserve artifacts in the Bay of Alexandria, divers raise a 4-foot-tall (1.5-meter-tall), granite, first-century A.D. statue of a priest of Isis from in 1998.

8_alexandria_461A UN convention advises that, in general, submerged artifacts should remain on the seabed as a way to respect their historical context–a view endorsed by the planners of the proposed underwater museum in Alexandria, Egypt. The proposed museum got a boost in September 2008, when the UN established a committee to aid the museum’s planning.


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