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Heracleion, also known as Thonis, was an ancient Egyptian city near Alexandria whose ruins are located in Abu Qir Bay, currently 2.5 km off the coast. Its legendary beginnings go back to as early as the 12th century BC, and it is mentioned by ancient Greek historians. Its importance grew especially during the waning days of the Pharaohs--the late period, when it was Egypt's main port.
Heracleion was originally built on some adjoining islands in the Nile delta, and was intersected by canals. It possessed a number of anchorages.
It was believed that Paris and Helen of Troy were stranded there on their flight from the jealous Menelaus, before the Trojan war began. Also, it was believed that Heracles, himself, had visited the city, and that the city had gained its name from him.
— British Museum, 2013
Heracleion is also mentioned in the Twin steles of Decree of Nectanebo I (originally known as the 'Stele of Naukratis'), which specify that one tenth of the taxes on imports passing through the town of Thonis/Herakleion were to be given to the sanctuary of Neith of Sais.
The city of Heracleion was also the site of the celebration of the ‘mysteries of Osiris' each year during the month of Khoiak. The god in his ceremonial boat was brought in procession from the temple of Amun in that city to his shrine in Canopus.
The city sank in the 6th or 7th century A.D., probably due to major earthquakes and floods. The ruins submerged in the sea were finally located and rediscovered by the French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio in 2000. Until then, the scholars were not sure if Heracleion and Thonis were in fact one and the same city.
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