Several prehistoric treasures such as Greek ceramics and 2,400-year-old fruit baskets were discovered under the sunken city of Thonis-Heracleion. It was the former largest Mediterranean harbor in Egypt before Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 331 B.C.E.

Together with Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, French marine archaeologist Franck Goddio and his colleagues at the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) unmasked the vessels. Exceptionally, these boats still contain doum nuts (fruits of an African palm tree) and grape seeds. Goddio believed that the fruits might have been preserved as funerary offerings since they were placed in an underground room. Not far away, the team also identified a 197- by 26-foot tumulus, or burial mound, and a grand collection of Greek funerary things. “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.”

Prehistoric pottery, bronze pieces, and figurines picturing the Egyptian god Osiris (also called Usir), were also discovered around the burial mound. According to IEASM, 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.”