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(2002) Uncovering the elusive secrets of Alexandria’s past
During the 1990s the French archaeologist Jean-Yves Empereur has conducted a series of remarkable excavations in the ancient city of Alexandria. His discoveries—both under water and on dry land—have considerably increased our knowledge of a city whose splendors and vast population amazed ancient travelers to the eastern Mediterranean. Founded in 331 bc by Alexander the Great, after whom it is named, Alexandria equaled Athens in its sphere of influence and rivaled Rome politically. A major center of Hellenistic, Jewish, and Christian culture, it was famed for its Library, its Mouseion and its magnificent palaces (home to Cleopatra and her ancestors), of which, sadly, no traces remain. However, Jean-Yves Empereur’s underwater excavations have recovered several thousand blocks from the famous lighthouse, which watched over the port from the third century bc until the fourteenth century and was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Meanwhile, the excavations of six further sites on land, including the catacombs at Kom el-Shuqafa and the necropolis at Gabbari, have provided much new information on the architecture, living conditions, religious practices, and artistic life of the city of Alexander and Cleopatra. In this book Empereur describes the methods he used to unearth these exciting and spectacular finds—often under very difficult conditions—and assesses the information they reveal about the life of the ancient city. The book is richly illustrated with dramatic photographs, most of them by Stéphane Compoint.