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Sunday Morning News

Archaeologists Discover Ancient Cities Under Mediterranean

Aired June 4, 2000 - 8:57 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Archaeologists say they have found the ruins of several ancient cities submerged off Egypt's northern coast in the Mediterranean Sea.

As CNN's Glenn Van Zutpin reports, the cities have largely been known only through Greek tragedies.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GLENN VAN ZUTPIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're among the cities described in Greek tragedies, and after two years of searching, archaeologists have finally found the so-called "lost cities" off the northern coast of Egypt.

The maritime explorers, led by a French archaeologist, uncovered statues, houses, and temples, where the ancient cities of Herakleion, Canopus, and Menouthis once stood. Among the relics divers pulled from the floor of the Mediterranean Sea, a life-sized black granite statue of the fertility goddess Isis.

FRANCK GODDIO, ARCHAEOLOGIST: It's one of the most beautiful Isis ever discovered and she was close to very big structures that we date back from late Pharaonic period, after the Menic (ph) period. And maybe this could be close from the Temple of Isis, which has been totally destroyed early fifth century A.D.

VAN ZUTPIN: Researchers believe the so-called "lost cities" were destroyed by earthquakes before being engulfed by the sea in the seventh or eighth century A.D. Proof of their timeline was found on the seabed in Islamic and Byzantine coins and jewelry of the period. Archaeologists have known about the cities for some time, but until now have been unable to identify their exact location.

GABALLA ALI GABALLA, SECRETARY GEN., EGYPTIAN SUPREME COUNCIL OF ANTIQUITIES: We are not talking about one city. We are talking about ancient Menouthis, and we are talking about Canopus, and we are talking about Herakleion.

We knew about Canopus, but we are talking about -- and we also knew something about Menouthis, but we didn't even know where Herakleion was. And this -- that's why we pursued a major discovery. We knew it from literature, but now we are having physical evidence that literature was not all fiction. VAN ZUTPIN: The find is the first physical proof of the existence of the cities, and Egyptian authorities have promised to keep most of these submerged cities untouched.

Glenn Van Zutpin, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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