Archaeologists have been unearthing an ancient port city that was accidentally discovered in Egypt some 20 years ago. It has yielded exciting results.
Discovered in the city of Marina, Egypt, the site shows what life was like for a population of around 15,000 living in the ancient city of Leukaspis or Anthiphrae during the early portion of late antiquity. The city was almost completely wiped out by a tsunami in the 4th century. An earthquake near Crete in 365 AD is what caused the massive wave and nearly destroyed the nearby city of Alexandria, too.
The evidence shows it had an active trade community with merchants trading items such as livestock, grains, wines, and olives to the rest of the Mediterranean. There are tombs, residential and business structures found in the area that illustrate what life was like – some of the villas which belonged to merchants are multi-storied. There was a sophisticated sewer system; rain water was collected from the roofs and building into underground cisterns below structures. The city was originally a stopping point along the way to Libya to the west, but eventually grew over time into a major port, sending most of its goods to nearby Crete as Leukaspis/Anthiphrae is closer to Crete than Alexandria.
In typical Roman fashion, there are two main roads which intersect into the town’s square and the remains of a Roman basilica can be seen there as well. There were bathhouses, as well as a public area for meetings to hold discussions nearby. As the Roman empire disintegrated, and economic troubles set in due to instability, coast towns such as these began to disappear.
In fact, the archaeological discovery may have been overlooked in favor of real estate development plans if not for the antiquities bureau stepping in. An artificial lagoon was built in the area in the early 1990’s which used dynamite to create the feature, destroying the remains of the ancient port. The interest in generating revenue through tourism is one of the reasons the site was saved, as European vacationers flock to the area in the winter months. The archaeological park is slated to open in the middle of this month.
If the site of Leukaspis/Anthiphrae is successfully carried out, there may be even more interest in the area to come. A Dominican archaeological team is working on the remains of a temple of Osiris only 30 miles away where the bodies of Cleopatra and Marc Antony are rumored to have been buried.