Wednesday, 17 Sep, 2008 Environment

Underwater Museum in Alexandria to Help Viewers Admire the Palace of Cleopatra


The palace of Egyptian Queen Cleopatra went under the waters of Mediterranean sea long time ago. However, tourists visiting Alexandria will soon have the opportunity to admire the remnants of the palace through an underwater museum in the Egyptian city. Photos are available here .

The museum's site is located near the New Library of Alexandria, the place where scientists believe Cleopatra lived together with Marc Anthony. This September, UNESCO, announced that it will send a team to determine whether it is possible to build such kind of museum. If yes, people will be able to observe the treasures and monuments of Cleopatra's palace.

It is worth mentioning that the Queen's palace was built on an island, in one of the biggest man-made bays in the world, but it sank due to earthquakes that occurred from the 4th century AD onward. The bay features lots of archaeological treasures lying under water. Back in 1990s scientists discovered 26 sphinxes, statues featuring the gifts to the gods, Roman and Greeks shipwrecks and thousands of other objects.

The museum will also include remnants of the Pharos of Alexandria lighthouse, which is one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. Archaeologists managed to identify over 2,000 objects in the area where they consider the lighthouse once stood. The museum is expected to be both inland and underwater.

The lead architect of feasibility study is Jacques Rougerie, who designed the museum with four tall glass structures all resembling the sails of fellucas, ancient sailboats that traveled along Nile.

"Those four points will be like the lighthouse of Alexandria that illuminated the library and the world. I want to do the same thing with this museum," said the architect.

The fiberglass tunnels will help viewers pass from the inland part of the museum to the one located underwater. However, the bay has murky waters that could make the monuments difficult to see. To solve this problem, the museum builders will most likely have to replace the water with an artificial lagoon.

"Try to picture a glass tube. And you simply put it over the main monuments that we need to highlight. It's almost like putting each of these monuments in this tube," said Amin, the Supreme Council expert.

In case the feasibility study determines that the underwater museum can be constructed safely, it will be built in 3 years. There's yet no data regarding the cost of the construction. The concerns over the pressure of water on the walls are not high since the Alexandria bay is only 5 to 6 meters deep.

Source: National Geographic

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