Divers have discovered a rare military vessel amid the sunken ruins of the ancient Egyptian city of Thônis-Heracleion - once Egypt's largest port on the Mediterranean - and a funerary complex illustrating the presence of Greek merchants.
Prior to the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the Great in the year 331 BC, Thônis-Heracleion was the largest port city in Egypt, controlling the entrance to the country at the mouth of a western branch of the Nile River and dominating the area for centuries.
Destroyed and sunk along with a wide area of the Nile delta by several earthquakes and tidal waves, Thônis-Heracleion was rediscovered in 2001 in Abu Qir Bay near Alexandria, now Egypt's second-largest city.
The military vessel, discovered by an Egyptian-French mission led by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), likely sank whilst loading huge blocks from the nearby Temple of Amun when the famed temple collapsed; the remains were discovered beneath 15 feet of clay and debris from the building.
Measuring over 25 m (80 feet) long, the flat-bottomed ship had both oars and a large sail. While built in the classical Greek style, it also incorporates some Egyptian shipbuilding traditions.
In another part of the city, the mission revealed the remains of a large Greek funerary area dating back to the first years of the 4th century BC, Egypt's tourism and antiquities ministry said.
"This discovery beautifully illustrates the presence of the Greek merchants who lived in that city," the ministry said, adding that the Greeks were allowed to settle there during the late Pharaonic dynasties.