Myths and facts were brought together this week by the news of giant statues that have been retrieved from shallow water 5kms offshore of Alexandria in Egypt. They are from the sunken city of Herakleion that was the main port to the region 2,500 years ago.
. One of the statues is of Hapi, god of the Nile, a popular icon of this time. It was the beginning of the Archaic Period which lasted a thousand years for the duration of the Greek Empire. It was also the beginning of civilisation in Europe, with the building of the Acropolis in Athens and the creation of familiar art on pottery and other surfaces.
In our more recent times deep-sea drilling has enabled geologists to understand how the tectonic plate of Africa is moving north to push against that of south east Europe. The island of Crete is particularly vulnerable to these movements and a big earthquake offshore in AD365 tipped the whole island and devastated the towns there. The resulting tsunami wrecked civilisations in Greece, Libya and Egypt and the sea rose to cover the city of Herakleion. The world sea level was also rising as polar ice melted from the recent Ice Age.
baths at Sabratha, Libya harbour at Apollonia, Libya
Some geologists say that another earthquake at the same tectonic plate boundary is expected soon.