Archaeologists seek Ptolemaic feet

Cairo - Egyptian archaeologists said on Friday they have moved 180 concrete blocks from the eastern shore of a fort in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria in the hopes of finding Greco-Roman artefacts submerged below.

The giant 20-ton blocks, put in place to protect the 15th century Fort Qait Bey from the sea, were moved to the more exposed northern side of the monument, said Ibrahim Darwish, head of underwater antiquities.

The Islamic fort is believed to have been built on the site of Alexandria's great lighthouse, the Pharos, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but Darwish said there were still doubts about the theory.

He added that his team was hoping to uncover "thousands of submerged artefacts," including the feet of a statue of one of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt discovered a year ago in the same place.

Darwish said the blocks had been moved to the sea-facing side of the fort to protect it from further damage after one of the building's cellars collapsed in May.

He said the Supreme Council for Antiquities was looking for more efficient ways to protect the Arab fort, which also houses a naval museum.

Alexandria was founded in 332 BC by Alexander the Great and flourished under the Ptolemys who ruled from shortly after Alexander's death until the death of Cleopatra in 30 BC. - Sapa-AFP

sign up