Sunday, June 6, 2010

Latest News on our Archaeological Investigation in the Area Around the Martyrium of St. Mark in Alexandria

The latest information from the leader of the investigation:

I am back in Athens while most of the team is still in Alexandria to close this Mission.

I have to say that the weather conditions have been unusually adverse and for most of the period of our campaign the sea visibility was practically nil.

We did make four attempts to dive on what seems to be a man-made geometrical imaging West of the Chatby Casino. Only the day before yesterday and yesterday visibility was adequate. The divers (two Greeks, an American and two Egyptian inspectors) reported that this is a natural formation (what is called a beach-rock). No man-made deep carvings or constructions was noted. There is however an unusually large amount of pottery sherds.

Notwithstanding this negative first approach I consider that this particular area should be attentively surveyed for the following reasons:

-- At first sight the presence of a large amount of pottery that is not part of a shipwreck is an indication of some important activity. I will return in Alexandria before long to study attentively the pottery remains their date and provenance.

-- The beach-rock may have been formed on top of man made structures.

-- There are numerous pockets of sand in between the beach-rock formations; they have to be investigated.

I am expecting to look attentively the videos and photographs.

An unexpected find is a Palaeolithic flint tool as well as a "core" from which such tools could be made. Of course there are in Upper Egypt thousands (probably hundreds of thousand) Palaeolithic and Mesolithic tools and weapons but none was found in the sea of Alexandria.

I have to attentively study those finds that could be explained by the rise of the Mediterranean sea and/or the presence of a canal (river-stream) that may have transported this flint tool from a neighbouring site. Chatby is precisely in the estuary of such a canal, now dried-out.

I will have to return Alexandria around the 24th of June to study the pottery sherd. I will revert.

Beach rock is typically formed in areas with receding shore lines. As Wikipedia notes "following the process of coastal erosion, beachrock formation may be uncovered. Coastal erosion may be the result of sea level rise or deficit in sedimentary equilibrium. One way or another, unconsolidated sand that covers the beachrock draws away and the formation is revealed. If the process of cementation continues, new beachrock would be formed in a new position in the intertidal zone. Successive phases of sea level change may result in sequential zones of beachrock."

The point is that we have our first suggestions that the area noted in our aerial photograph was indeed used by humans who left pottery shards and other yet undocumented remains. This area was inhabited by the Jews of Alexandria from the Ptolemaic period to the revolt in the Trajanic period.

 Regular readers of this blog know what I think we will ultimately find here ...

Email with comments or questions.

Stephan Huller's Observations by Stephan Huller
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