Greek ceramics, 2,400-year-old wicker fruit baskets, and several other archaeological treasures were discovered under the submerged metropolis of Thonis-Heracleion, in the bay of Abū Qīr. Before Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 331 B.C.E., Thonis-Heracleion was the largest Mediterranean port in Egypt.

In cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio and his colleagues at the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) unveiled the vessels. Remarkably, they still contain the fruit of an African palm tree, which is known as the doum nuts, and grape seeds. Goddio assumed that the fruits might have been preserved for funerary offerings since they were placed in an underground room. Close at hand, the team identified a 197- by 26-foot tumulus, or burial mound, and a lavish collection of Greek funerary stuff. “Nothing was disturbed,” Goddio clarified. “Spectacular ceremonies must have taken place there. The place must have been sealed for hundreds of years as we have found no objects from later than the early fourth century B.C.E., even though the city lived on for several hundred years after that.” Online newspaper Egypt Independent said that researchers have been studying the ancient port city since its rediscovery in 2001.

Ancient pottery, bronze artifacts, and figurines depicting the Egyptian god Osiris (also called Usir), were also discovered around the tumulus. The discovery “beautifully illustrates the presence of Greek merchants and mercenaries who lived in Thonis-Heracleion, the city that controlled the entrance to Egypt at the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile,” IEASM said.