A city lost between legend and reality, Heracleion, also known as Thonis, was once believed to be a myth.
It had legendary beginnings, rumored that Helen and Paris of Troy had been stranded there before the Trojan War began. It was even said that Hercules himself had visited the city, giving it its distinct name.
Ancient historians Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo also mentioned the legendary city.
Yet, despite its substantial presence in Greek history, prior to its discovery in 2000, no trace of the city had been found. Until then, scholars weren’t even sure that Heracleion and Thonis were one and the same city.
However, with the relatively recent discovery, scholars have gained insight into Heracleion.
With beginnings that date back to the 12th century BC, the formerly thriving city enjoyed a period of extraordinary wealth. It served as an obligatory port of entry into Egypt for all ships coming from the Greek world. It also held religious importance, likely because of its temple of Amun.
It vanished over 1,200 years ago, presumably due to major earthquakes and floods, only to be buried under the sand and mud for over a millennium.