Lost town of Rhakotis

Archaeologists have found the first physical evidence of a long rumoured town believed to have existed on the site of present-day Alexandria.

Macedonian emperor Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 332 BC.

The team of American, Egyptian and French archaeologists discovered ruins of building construction 700 years older than the conqueror’s (Alexander’s) invasion of Egypt, while searching under the waves of Alexandria’s East Bay for Greek and Roman ruins.

Geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History said the new find is "the first hard evidence" of Rhakotis, a town mentioned in several histories of the region but whose existence had never been substantiated before.

To search for clues as to what might have caused structural failure of Greek- and Roman-era buildings, roads, and piers now sitting at the bottom of the bay, Stanley, together with archaeologists from the Franck Goddio Society and Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, sunk a half-dozen vibracores-vibrating three-inch hollow tubes into the muck and silt of the bay’s floor.

The tubes contained layered soil samples, or cores-some as long as 20 feet. Stanley took his samples back to Washington, DC, and dated them using a radiocarbon technique.

Though he was searching for cracked or damaged rocks that might suggest how Greek-era structures had failed, he was surprised to find older signs of human endeavour. The cores turned up lead and human waste that were more than 3,000 years old — evidence of a significant settlement centuries before Alexander stormed Egypt.

Further analysis of the core samples by a team of specialists in terrestrial magnetism, anthropology, paleobiology, and geology confirmed that the findings indeed point to Rhakotis. "There are signs of a flourishing settlement going back to Pharaonic times, but it’s too early to say anything about it," said Mohamed Abdel-Maqsud, an Alexandria expert from the Supreme Council of Antiquities. The findings appear in the August issue of the journal GSA Today, reports National Geographic. — ANI