Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
colbartn.gif (4535 octets)

Coastal region and small island papers 14

3. International Workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management

Background to the workshop

In May 1994, the Marine Policy Center of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution organized a one-day meeting on ‘Alexandria, the Land-Sea Relationship, Marine Archaeology, and Coastal Development’. The meeting convened by the late James M. Broadus and Nils Tongring, brought together a number of archaeologists and marine scientists, including three from Egypt (Farouk El-Baz, Makram Gerges and Selim Morcos). The effects on Alexandria of relative sea-level rise, changes in the Nile Delta and rapid urban and coastal development were among the questions addressed. The participants emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary research and the need for integrated coastal management. They suggested a workshop in Alexandria to discuss specific problems, which also relate to other parts of the Mediterranean, and coastal regions elsewhere.

The discussions and conclusions of the May 1994 meeting were described in a memorandum, drafted in Arabic and addressed to the Archaeological Society of Alexandria in July 1994 by Prof. Selim Morcos. The findings were further discussed at a round table held at the conclusion of a symposium on ‘Europe and Egypt, Co-operation in Archaeology’ (Alexandria, 7–8 December 1994), and were the main subjects discussed at the annual scientific meeting of the Archaeological Society of Alexandria, 3–4 April 1996.

Parallel to these activities was a welcome development in UNESCO. Late in 1995, the Organization’s General Conference approved the establishment of an interdisciplinary initiative on ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’ (CSI). In November 1995, a meeting of UNESCO staff members from the Sectors for Natural Sciences and for Culture discussed a proposal by Selim Morcos to support an interdisciplinary workshop on the underwater historical sites of Alexandria and its coastal environment. This was followed, one year later, by a briefing to a meeting of UNESCO staff members, in November 1996, on the progress made in convening the workshop. It was decided that UNESCO co-sponsor the proposed workshop through the joint effort of CSI, Divisions of Cultural Heritage and Geology, in cooperation with the UNESCO Office in Cairo.

The idea of convening a broad-scale international scientific meeting to consider Alexandria’s underwater heritage was supported by scholars both within Egypt and in institutions abroad. The University of Alexandria designated a Steering Committee composed of Hassan Awad, Mostapha El-Abbadi and Youssef Halim, who took the necessary steps to bring this dream to fruition.

The international workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management was convened in Alexandria, 7–11 April 1997. The event was organized in response to the widespread interest expressed by the scientific and cultural communities in Egypt and abroad, and benefited from the moral and material support of several governmental and non-governmental organizations.

The workshop came at an opportune time as the need for an interdisciplinary approach to resolve the conflicting needs in the coastal area became apparent. This workshop was one of the first international meetings to examine the relationship between submarine archaeology and coastal development. The workshop took place as a result of (i) the convergence of the interests of both the University of Alexandria and the international scientific community, (ii) the favourable response of UNESCO, and (iii) the successful field work in and around the Eastern Harbour carried out by scientists supported by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, as well as several national and international institutions and other sources. The workshop was organized by the University of Alexandria, the Supreme Council of Antiquities and UNESCO. Annex 1 contains the names of the individuals involved in the workshop organizing committee.

The workshop was supported by:


The objectives of the workshop were as follows:

Workshop organization

Opening session

The opening ceremony for the workshop was held in the Alexandria Conference Centre on 7 April 1997. Professor Essam Salem, then President of the University of Alexandria, welcomed the participants and emphasized that the University, by virtue of its geographic position, gives high priority to disciplines related to marine sciences and Mediterranean studies. Dr Ali Hassan, then Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, referred to the ongoing underwater archaeological activities in and around the Eastern Harbour and the threat posed to these sites by ill-conceived shoreline protection measures, such as in El-Silsilah. Mr Adnan Shihab-El Din, then Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Cairo, discussed the Organization’s programmes in relation to the issues under consideration. He referred particularly to a UNESCO initiative, the ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’ platform. He also made mention of the Cultural Heritage Division, which has a long tradition of co-operation with the authorities and scholars of antiquities in Egypt, and is hosting negotiations on a new convention for the protection of underwater cultural heritage. The then Governor of Alexandria, Councillor El-Sayed El-Gawsaky, assured the participants of the endeavours of the Governorate of Alexandria to plan the development of the coastal zone of Alexandria in a scientific and environmentally sound manner.

More than 250 personalities including staff members from the Alexandria Governorate, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Tourism, the Egyptian Navy, the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and the Alexandria Businessmen’s Association attended the opening session. Diplomatic representatives from embassies and consulates in Cairo and Alexandria attended the opening session and some of the working sessions of the workshop. About 70 media personnel from TV, radio and the press, from Egypt and abroad, covered the meeting. Some 100 experts and participants from Egypt and abroad took part in the working sessions of the workshop (Annex 2).

Workshop sessions

Eleven workshop sessions over four days were devoted to scientific presentations and discussions (see Annex 3 for the contents of each session). The scientific presentations covered a wide range of topics on the following major themes:

The scientific presentations are summarized in this report as well as some of the discussions. Full-length versions of many of the papers have been published in ‘Underwater archaeology and coastal management. Focus on Alexandria’ (Mostafa et al., 2000).

Working groups

During the second phase of the workshop, participants formed two working groups to discuss the stability of the Qait Bey Citadel and the long-term management of underwater archaeological sites. The conclusions of the two groups formed the basis for the final recommendations of the workshop. Annex 4 lists the persons involved in the working groups.

Field trips

Two field trips offered the participants an insight into the marine-related archaeological sites of Alexandria. The first was a visit to the Roman Theatre at Kom El-Dekkah to examine the recently recovered archaeological artefacts from the Pharos site. They also visited the Maritime Museum to see the treatment and conservation laboratory, the statue of Isis, and other artefacts discovered by Kamel Abul-Saadat and raised by the Navy in 1962. On the second trip, the participants travelled to two archaeological sites near Alexandria, Marea and Marina.


The Italian exhibition ‘Diving in the Past, La Marmotta Case Study’ was inaugurated and lasted for the duration of the workshop. This was arranged by the organizers of the workshop, the Italian Cultural Centre in Egypt and the Italian National Museum for Prehistory and Ethnography ‘Luigi Pigorini’ in Rome. The exhibition focused on the systematic annual research excavations, conducted since 1992 in the submerged village of Marmotta, Lake Bracciano, central Italy. Here, in the summer of 1994, a great wooden canoe carved from a single tree-trunk was discovered and salvaged, and is currently being restored. The purpose of the exhibition was to explain to the public how research institutes operate and help to protect underwater remains.

Figure 5.
Honor Frost and
Kamel Abul-
Saadat on the
Pharos site,
during the
field work of a
UNESCO mission
in October 1968.
Source: H. Frost


During a reception, hosted in the General Consulate of France in Alexandria on 8 April 1997, His Excellency J. P. Castella, French Consul General, awarded Government medals inscribed with their names and the words ‘Archéologie Sous-Marine’, to three pioneers of submarine archaeology in Alexandria:

Highlights of the workshop discussions

The focus of the workshop discussions was on the recent work of the Empereur and Goddio teams and the problem of the Citadel. The participants showed considerable interest in the early archaeological discoveries of Kamel Abul-Saadat in the Eastern Harbour around Qait Bey and El-Silsilah – Cape Lochias, particularly the raising of an impressive statue of a woman, ostensibly Isis or a Ptolemaic Queen (Figure 6; and Figure 7). The more recent success of Jean-Yves Empereur and his Franco-Egyptian team of archaeologists and divers in mapping the thousands of fragments lying off the Qait Bey Citadel, and the recovery of some of the more interesting pieces, were also discussed. Most of the finds are probably from the Pharos itself and the surrounding site. The male colossus, which was salvaged in separate pieces, in October 1995 and April 1996, attracted considerable attention.

Figure 6.
Colossal statue of Goddess
Isis from the 3rd century BC
(red granite, 7 m long, 25
tons), shown here beside a
statue of a man (120 cm long).
Photos: S. Morcos

A Franco-Egyptian group under the leadership of Franck Goddio conducted a series of dives in the Eastern Harbour and made an outline of the Ancient Harbour. In his preliminary account, Goddio referenced his outline by means of a geographic information system, accurate to 50 cm. Apart from some slides of amphora and other objects that were lifted to the surface, cleaned, photographed, and replaced, and a schematic map, no details have yet been released. The most striking difference from the Strabo description is that the Antirhodos Island is now placed to the west of the Timonium peninsula. A considerable number of amphorae were found unbroken, which suggested to one questioner that they marked a wreck, not the shore. Another advised caution in identifying docks, pointing out that hundreds of years of oceanic processes may distort the evidence. There was a discussion as to whether Roman and Greek work could be distinguished based on the colour of the mortar. The finds were unquestionably jumbled columns from different periods, and this could provide verification of the story of medieval defenders who, fearing an invasion from the sea, dumped any moveable object they could find into the harbour.

The discoveries have had many consequences for the Egyptian Antiquities Services of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and for the future of archaeology in Alexandria. For example, a new museum on the history of Alexandria is planned and the Supreme Council of Antiquities has become more aware of the growing significance of Egypt’s Greco-Roman past.

To understand the tectonic changes that have occurred in the area, coring and sediment analysis must be carried out. It is becoming increasingly evident that a multidisciplinary approach, involving archaeologists, geologists, oceanographers, art historians and Egyptologists, is necessary to investigate the complex development, decline, and disappearance of the ancient city of Alexandria.

The immediate problem of the erosion of the Qait Bey Citadel’s foundation was raised. The preliminary modelling, as described in the meeting, was inconclusive. The study of more elaborate models is underway, but some ad hoc measures to halt the damage may have to be taken before the theoretical analysis is completed.

Another concern discussed was the continuing flow of untreated, municipal and industrial wastewater into the Mediterranean Sea at Alexandria, both inside and outside the Eastern Harbour. This is estimated to be about 300,000 cubic metres per day, representing one third of the city’s wastewater. The remaining two-thirds, of which half receives primary treatment, are released into Lake Mariout from where it flows out through the El Mex pumping station to El Mex Bay, west of Alexandria. Plans are being made to divert all of the city’s wastewater to the treatment plants and Lake Mariout, thus stopping the input of untreated wastewater into the Eastern Harbour. The control of this problem will determine future levels of sustainable multi-purpose use of Alexandria’s coastal area. Unfortunately, the business community, though invited, was not represented at the workshop, nor were the users of the Eastern Harbour, such as fishermen, boat builders and boat owners. It is noteworthy, however, that the Alexandria Businessmen’s Association co-sponsored the workshop.

A suggestion was made to create an underwater archaeological park in the Eastern Harbour. However, it was not clear how this would be implemented. Preserving the offshore area may become increasingly difficult, as has been the case with land sites, e.g. the new Alexandria Library and Conference Centre and the nearby hospital have been constructed in important historical areas, even though only limited archaeological exploration had been undertaken. One extreme view might be to drain the entire Eastern Harbour. Perhaps more practically, a concern for the Greco-Roman city may at least reduce any further loss and slowly add to the finds already made, making the modern city an increasingly important tourist destination. The publicity given to the recent recovery efforts demonstrates the great worldwide interest in the Ptolemaic city.

Summaries of the workshop presentations
(For a list of the presentations, see Annex 3)

Session I

Ancient Alexandria and the Mediterranean world

Links between the site of Alexandria and other points along the Mediterranean shore started long before the foundation of the city. Evidence from literary, historical and archaeological sources, points to military encounters and commercial contacts involving Pharos and Rhacotis.

During Ptolemaic and Roman times, Alexandria gradually claimed precedence over other Mediterranean cities in various fields. Its lighthouse and two active ports made it the ‘Greatest Emporium in the World’, while the Mouseion or the School of Alexandria, together with its famous library, gave it the lead in specialized learning in medicine and astronomy, and allowed for an exchange of scholars.

In matters of religion and religious thought, Alexandria also played a prominent role. The Egyptian cults of Isis and Serapis spread from Alexandria to the Asian and European shores of the Mediterranean. Christian Alexandrian scholars defended their new creed against Roman pantheism within the Mediterranean basin and exchanged ideas with visiting fellow Christians.

The greatest emporium in the inhabited world

(See also the version of this paper published in Mostafa et al., 2000)

Alexander conceived his new city, Alexandria, as an emporium or trading centre. His finance minister in Egypt, the notorious Cleomenes, controlled an international trade monopoly in grain from Alexandria.

Under strict Ptolemaic economic policy, efficient financial regulations were formulated. Ptolemy II Philadelphus ordered the exchange of foreign gold and silver for new Ptolemaic coins as a condition for trading in Alexandria and throughout the rest of Egypt. A papyrus from the middle of the 2nd century BC mentions the formation of a multi-national company engaged in trade with lands in east Africa. The banker for this contract was a Roman citizen. From the middle of the 2nd century BC, Roman financiers played an increasing role in the Alexandrian money market. Backed by Roman capital and interest, in 118–116 BC Alexandrian sailors discovered the use of the monsoon winds for navigation within the Indian Ocean. Thus, for the first time, the return journey from Egypt to India was made possible in less than one year. As a result, Alexandrian foreign trade multiplied many-fold.

Augustus Caesar conquered Egypt in 30 BC. Alexandrian businessmen took full advantage of the so-called pax Romana, which meant among other things, trade by both land and sea. With perfect harbours and easy means of communication, Alexandria maintained close, direct contacts with world markets during the ensuing three centuries. It flourished and grew rich and productive and became, in Strabo’s words, ‘the greatest emporium in the inhabited world’.

Alexandria’s urbanization plan and eco-tourism

In 1983 a comprehensive development plan for the city of Alexandria was agreed upon by all parties concerned. Expansion of the city would be towards the desert, there would be a network of roads throughout the city, and transport would be expanded to encourage decentralization.

Alexandria faces many problems including urban migration, sewage disposal, tourist village expansion. In order to solve these problems, there is a need for the:

While there is conflict between the conservation of natural resources and economic development, the identification, rehabilitation and preservation of historic sites must remain a priority. A database of these sites should be compiled. Community participation is also needed in the development and implementation of the coastal management plan.

Coastal resources: The need for a management system

Coastal resources are concentrated in a narrow band where the continent meets the sea; however, they are used by a population scattered across the continental landmass. The pressure on these scarce coastal resources has grown with increases in population, wealth, mobility, and leisure time. The presentation examined man’s interaction with the coastal zone and discussed how a coastal management programme might be conceived and implemented. The principles and guidelines for coastal zone management plans were also explored. Waterfront revitalization was discussed with reference to Alexandria.

Session II

Preservation of submerged monuments and development needs

Questions on how to preserve underwater monuments were discussed. These included what to preserve, the technology to preserve underwater monuments, and how to interpret underwater discoveries. There is a need for a database including submarine monuments, environmental parameters and development plans. Any emergency interventions, such as are needed in Alexandria, must take into account existing development plans.

Early discoveries of submarine archaeological sites in Alexandria

While early archaeologists of Alexandria were aware that a significant part of the ancient city existed under the sea, no serious attempt was made to explore the underwater heritage. This was largely because of the primitive tools available for underwater exploration prior to World War 2, and the large amount of rich, unexplored heritage on land. The task was left to chance and to some pioneers driven by scientific curiosity and enthusiasm.

In 1859, Larousse found that the old Canopic branch of the Nile extended some 8 km along the bottom of Abu Qir Bay. In the early 1930s, a pilot reported to Prince Omar Toussoun that, while flying over the bay, he saw vast remains below the water. Guided by local fishermen and aided by divers, Toussoun was able to locate several large structures and to salvage a statue, the head of Alexander the Great now on display in the Greco-Roman Museum. In 1965, Kamel Abul-Saadat located the position of ships from the French Fleet which had been sunk during the Battle of the Nile. He later (1983–4) helped Jacques Dumas and his ‘Bonaparte’ expedition to study and salvage part of the fleet.

Gaston Jondet, the Chief Engineer of the Department of Ports and Lighthouses, discovered the Old Port of Pharos in 1910. He described the colossal breakwaters and structures submerged at depths of about 8 m below the surface. This discovery came as a great surprise due to the lack of solid historical evidence of the existence of such structures.

In 1961, Abul-Saadat discovered a huge statue of Isis and other artefacts in the Eastern Harbour. He captured the imagination of the public by uncovering the underwater remains of the jewel of Alexandria – the Eastern Harbour with its famous lighthouse on the site of Qait Bey Fort, on Pharos Island to the west, and El-Silsilah (Cape Lochias) with its royal palaces to the east.

The three main underwater archaeological sites of Alexandria, the ancient harbour in Ras-el-Tin, the Eastern Harbour and Abu Qir Bay, are of great significance, not only to the city, but also to human knowledge of history, geography, geology, oceanography and climatology. For example, Abu Qir Bay covers the mouth of the Canopic branch of the Nile, which was one of the oldest natural harbours in the history of mankind, as well as several human settlements which flourished before the foundation of Alexandria and existed alongside it.

Omar Toussoun and Gaston Jondet presented and published theories and interpretations of their discoveries in the Archaeological Society of Alexandria. Unfortunately, Kamel Abul-Saadat had neither the means nor the facility to do this. This modest but proud archaeologist was often frustrated by the lack of recognition he received. The author helped Abul-Saadat compile a list of objects he had discovered in the Eastern Harbour, make accurate drawings of them, and prepare one or two maps of their locations based on his visual observations (Figure 7). However, Kamel Abul-Saadat did not live long enough to fulfil his dreams and see his own work published.

Figure 7.
Drawing by Kamel Abul-Saadat, showing the positions of his discoveries in the Eastern Harbour and around the Qait Bey Citadel (
Morcos, 2000).

Legend in Arabic:
Area of Silsila. 1. Four sarcophages; 2. Two sarcophages; 3. Statue without head, in a Greek dress, stairs with 3 steps, columns in marble and granite, broken sarcophage made of basalt; 4. Columns of marble in front of the Tiro Club (hunting/shooting club).
Area of Qait Bey. 5a. Statue of the Goddess Isis; 5b. Statue of Ramses; 5c. Statue in the form of a sphynx; 5d. A number of sarcophages and columns in granite and marble, and a number of stones in marble from Pharos. ‘There are also other objects in the area which I could not identify, since they are present at a great depth from the sea surface’.
Presented by the discoverer, Kamel Abul-Saadat, 7/11/1961

(Comment by S. Morcos: The date provided by Abul-Saadat coïncides with the period during which his discoveries were made. This map was actually drawn at a later date.)

Recuperating an Alexandrian pioneer in submarine archaeology: Kamel Abul-Saadat

The underwater archaeological work done by the Alexandrian diver Kamel Hussein Abul-Saadat (1934–1984) was, in many respects, singular. His investigations of submerged sites were a self-motivated, self-financed, single-handed endeavour. His work, though amateur, is all the more significant, since it took place at a time when the authorities had not the equipment, the expertise or even the interest to investigate underwater archaeology. A biographical sketch of Abul-Saadat provides an understanding of the socio-cultural and political background of the period 1960 to 1980. Most of the sites he discovered and explored have since been scientifically surveyed and/or excavated. As to the details of his finds, his maps and sketches, it was covered in-depth by Prof. Morcos who knew Abul-Saadat and worked with him.

Session III

The two ports of Alexandria as shown on plans and maps from the 14th century to the time of Mohamed Ali

(See Annex 7 for brief account by H. Tzalas of a programme developed by two Greek Institutes and Patras University, in co-operation with Egyptian counterparts. This activity was initiated subsequent to SARCOM ’97; the impetus for it was provided, at least in part, by the Workshop experience.)

Alexandria, during medieval and post-medieval times, suffered a gradual decline, reaching its nadir during the Ottoman period. The old town, enclosed within its Islamic fortifications, was nearly abandoned and became a mound of ruins. A new conurbation was formed on the strip of land reclaimed by the Nile deposition on both sides of the Heptastadion. This was the nucleus for modern Alexandria that developed during the first half of the 19th century.

The ancient ports, of the ‘Megas Limin’ (eastern port) and the ‘Eunostos’ (western port), which originally intercommunicated through openings in the Heptastadion dike, became two distinct harbours. The western port, more spacious and deeper, was reserved exclusively for Islamic vessels, while other ships were allocated anchorage in the eastern port, the entrance of which was better controlled by the batteries of the Qait Bey fortress.

Notwithstanding the loss of their initial importance after the opening of the new trade route to India via the Cape of Good Hope, the ports of Alexandria remained in use and their commercial activities, although reduced, continued. This is contrary to events at other ancient ports that became silted-up or were submerged, e.g. the ports of Cornish, Kencrhal and Lechaion, which were abandoned centuries ago.

A number of plans and maps drawn during the second half of the 15th century, along with travellers’ accounts, attest to the situation up to the19th century. At this time, after opening the western port to all vessels, Mohamed Ali built new facilities making Alexandria one of the leading commercial centres of the Mediterranean. There are over 50 maps and plans from the mid-14th century to the mid-19th century showing the harbours of Alexandria. Most of these early maps are far from accurate and contain artists’ distortions and exaggerations. Some maps are copies made by people who had never set foot in Alexandria. In spite of their inaccuracies, these maps and plans, supplemented by the narratives of travellers, are precious documents that deserve close investigation and can contribute to a better understanding of the mediaeval and post-mediaeval topography of Alexandria. Such documents can be of great help to field and underwater archaeologists in researching the history of the ‘Eunostos’ and the ‘Megas Limin’, perhaps the most prestigious of all ancient Mediterranean ports.

The author presented and commented on an unpublished map of Alexandria, showing its ports, which was drawn in the year 1603 by a spy working for the Reign of the Two Sicilies. This important and unique document shows, for the first time, a plan of Alexandria not subject to the usual artistic distortions and fantasies. It is a depiction by a person solely concerned with drawing an accurate map meant to be used for an attack on the city. The maps and plans also provide marine archaeologists with interesting representations of a variety of merchant and war vessels from the Islamic and Christian worlds.

Nelson Island project: Research into archaeology and geology

A research programme has been established at the University of Pisa to study the Greco-Roman site of Nelson Island which is now half-submerged. It is very important to study and preserve this ancient site which is threatened by the sea. The programme has two goals, firstly to study and understand the site from historical and archaeological viewpoints, and secondly to evaluate the changes in the coastline of Abu Qir Bay since the Greco-Roman period to the present era.

The proposed programme for 1997–8 will start with a topographical survey of the island and conduct an underwater survey. The underwater archaeological ruins will help to show sea-level variation through the ages and contribute to an understanding of the geological setting of the whole Abu Qir Bay in the context of the north African coast.

The coastal sites of Central Lazio: A problem of preservation

A surveying programme, encompassing the partially submerged coastal sites of Lazio, seeks to identify and preserve those sites of archaeological and cultural interest. A preliminary phase of this project involved the reconstruction of ancient geomorphological features in relation to historical topographic research.

The area chosen for study lies between Cape d’Anzio, Torre Astura, Gaela, Sperlonga and the Pontine Islands. Large centres of population like Anzio, Circei and Terraeina were linked along the via Severiana by a series of coastal villages. The period under study extends from the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 1st century BC to the present day. These sites provide evidence of intense urbanization almost always connected with the breeding and preparation of fish, an industry typical of the Roman world.

Inauguration of the Italian exhibition: ‘Diving into the past – la Marmotta’ case study

The exhibition ‘Diving into the past’, displayed at this workshop, was organized by the Italian Cultural Centre for the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Italian National Museum for Prehistory and Ethnography ‘Luigi Pigorini’, Rome. The exhibition illustrates the art of explaining the results of underwater excavations to the public.

The first settlements at Marmotta date back to the early Neolithic period. The appearance in Italy of the first communities with an economy based mainly on agriculture and animal husbandry has been attributed either to an act of colonization carried out by small groups of people coming from distant lands, or to the slower process of ‘cultural improvement’ of local Mesolithic groups. Systematic annual research excavations have been carried out since 1992 in the submerged village of Marmotta, Lake Bracciano, central Italy, by the Soprintendenza Speciale al Museo Nazionale Preistorico Etnográfico ‘Luigi Pigorini’ (National Museum for Prehistory and Ethnography). In the summer of 1994, a great wooden canoe carved from a single trunk was discovered and salvaged, and is currently being restored.

The exhibition ‘Diving into the past’ is currently on show at the ‘Luigi Pigorini’ Museum in Rome, where it accompanies restoration work likely to last several more years on the single-piece wooden canoe. The purpose of the exhibition is to show the public the various ways in which research institutes study and protect the cultural underwater heritage. The exhibition at the workshop consisted of the original display accompanied by a life-size drawing of the wooden canoe, since it was not possible to transport the canoe to Egypt.

Session IV

Developing ‘wise practices’ in coastal management: A cross-sectoral approach

Coastal areas are complex human and natural environments. Many of the most diverse and productive of the earth’s ecosystems occur in this belt where land meets sea. Some 60% of the world’s population lives within 60 km of the coastline; and through a combination of population growth, migration and urbanization factors this figure will likely rise to 75% by the year 2020. Moreover, more than two thirds of the world’s megacities are located on the coast. It is widely acknowledged that interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral co-operation is the only way to find enduring solutions to these challenging and inherently complex problems. 

In response to this need for integration, UNESCO launched, in January 1996, an initiative called ‘Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands’. The principle objective of this endeavour is to help UNESCO Member States towards the achievement of environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate development of coastal regions. On the basis of lessons learned from various field project activities, as well as integrated coastal management initiatives elsewhere, UNESCO has set for itself the task of elaborating a set of guiding principles and practical methods: wise practices for sustainable coastal development.

Through the collaboration of experts in several relevant disciplines, and decision-makers from the responsible bodies, this workshop can assist in finding integrated solutions for coastal erosion problems affecting Alexandria’s coastal heritage. The wise practices developed in this process may contribute in the long term to the fully integrated management of Alexandria’s coastal region.

Remote-sensing applications to underwater archaeological exploration along the coast of Alexandria

The northern coastline of the Nile delta has undergone numerous changes throughout recorded history. The subsidence of the coastal area and the submergence of many archaeological sites were due to natural processes. However, other changes occurred due to human activities, most notably since the construction of the High Dam at Aswan. The formation of Lake Nasser has held back the sediment, and thus inhibited the growth of the northern boundary of the Nile delta. As the eastward-moving Mediterranean currents began to erode the promontories at the mouths of the two branches of the Nile River, this process released sediment to the beaches, establishing a new balance. The resulting changes must be monitored and understood prior to undertaking a programme of underwater archaeological exploration along the Alexandrian coastline.

Satellite images provide an exceptionally useful tool to monitor such short-term changes. Landsat Thematic Mapper images obtained annually between 1984 and 1993 were recently used to characterize minor changes along the coastline of Alexandria. Results of these analyses may be of significance in understanding the process of burial of archaeological sites.

Once the coastal zone environment is understood and a mechanism for monitoring both natural and man-made changes is established, remote-sensing equipment can be employed to help uncover hidden archaeological sites and artefacts. The instruments that have the greatest promise include:

A combination of these methods would be required to fully understand the nature of the coastal area off the shore of Alexandria and its submerged archaeological features. A multidisciplinary team of investigators is required to ensure that such a programme would satisfy the exploration goals without harming the coastal environment. In addition, the coastline of Alexandria should be protected from further urban development until the archaeological survey is completed.

Coastal processes and proposed protection work along the Alexandria coastline

This paper discusses coastal changes, sand movement caused by waves and currents, and methods of shore protection, both in general and as theyrelate to Alexandria’s beaches. A brief summary of the studies required before executing any protection work is also included.

The city of Alexandria has a coastline 31 km long that extends from Abu Qir to El-Dikheila. The coast is generally undulating and interrupted by rocky headlands that form small embayments and pocket beaches ranging from 0.3 to 1.6 km long. The rocky part of the shoreline, with no beaches, is about 18 km long with an almost vertical concrete wall protecting the Corniche. The original sandy beaches are characterized by relatively steep slopes of 1:30 and a sediment size ranging in diameter from 1.6 to 0.13 mm. Beach sediments are derived from local rocky limestone islets extending about 300 m into the sea and aligned more or less parallel to the shoreline. These islets give natural protection to Alexandrian beaches against winter storms.

Most of Alexandria’s beaches are eroding. There is evidence of sand loss and some beaches have disappeared completely; only a few beaches are generally stable. The erosion rate is about 20 cm/year, based on comparison of aerial photographs between 1955 and 1983.

Waves, currents, sea-level variations and wind are the main forces causing sediment movement along Alexandria’s coastline. Usually about 14 winter storms per year attack the coast with maximum wind speeds of 35 knots. These storms and their surges cause significant coastal erosion, and result in overtopping and flooding of the Corniche and adjacent buildings. The wave action removes sand from underneath the concrete blocks that front most of the Corniche. This phenomenon is threatening the stability of the Corniche road, causing subsidence of the asphalt at Gleem and in some other localities near the Eastern Harbour. The Qait Bey Fort is also suffering from a similar process; parts of its floor near the sea have subsided and many cracks have appeared damaging the building. Similar erosion is likely to adversely impact submerged archaeological artefacts.

Between 1987 and 1994, artificial beach nourishment projects, with and without concrete jetties, were implemented at Abu Qir, Stanley, El Asafra, Mandara and El Shatby beaches. Every year, 20-ton blocks are dumped into the water to protect the Corniche wall from wave action. Similar blocks were placed in front of Qait Bey Fort to protect it, but they damaged other submerged archaeological monuments. The project was stopped.

Figure 8.
Two interpretations of the Pharos 
Lighthouse: above, reconstruction by a 
scientist, in the early 20th century, as a 
three-storey building (
Thiersch, 1909);
and below, an 18th century engraving of 
a five-storey building as imagined by 
artist J. B. Fischer von Erlach 
(© Historical Picture Archive/CORBIS)

Session V

From Byblos to Pharos: Some archaeological considerations

Two aspects of lighthouses were discussed: firstly how changes in sea-level affect ancient harbour installations, including lighthouses; and secondly, the function of lighthouses, namely to mark a port for ships far out to sea so that they can identify it. The traces of two early lighthouses on the Levant coast were described. Although the Pharos of Alexandria was famed as being the largest lighthouse of antiquity, it was not the first.

Recent excavation of submerged archaeological sites of Qait Bey region

(See also the version of this paper published in Mostafa et al., 2000)

The results of a four-year underwater survey by a Franco-Egyptian team of divers and archaeologists were described. The site is the sea floor off the Qait Bey Citadel at the eastern end of the ancient island of the Pharos. The work was undertaken at the request of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, to evaluate the situation with regard to the protection of the foundation of the Qait Bey Citadel, and to explore and preserve the submerged archaeological site. This continued Kamel Abul-Saadat’s archaeological work which was carried out in 1961. Some 2,500 pieces of stonework of archaeological interest, scattered over 2.5 hectares, have been uncovered. These include columns, bases, capitals, sphinxes, statues and some immense blocks of granite, and were probably part of the great Pharos Lighthouse.

Protection of the Pharos excavation in Alexandria, some preliminary results on wave agitation and sedimentological problems

(See also the version of this paper published in Mostafa et al., 2000)

Archaeologists working in Alexandria expressed the wish to move a submerged concrete wall which covers part of the Pharos archaeological site, in order to carry out the excavation. The Électricité de France Foundation and the Laboratoire National d’Hydraulique have been asked to study the impact of such a measure. The wall, if altered, must still protect Qait Bey Fort from wave action, allow the Pharos excavation to continue, and protect the archaeological site from water movement and sedimentation. Also under consideration is the creation of a submarine museum, which could be visited by divers or people using glass-bottomed boats.

Wave computations for an area 500 by 400 m around the excavation site have been carried out with the use of ATRIUMS software. This software was developed by the Laboratoire National d’Hydraulique. It takes into account bottom refraction, diffraction, reflection against obstacles (dikes, seawalls, breakwaters), surf-breaking and bottom friction, and may be run in monochromatic wave mode as well as in random wave mode. Results are given in terms of significant wave heights, wave orbital velocities, wave incidence and breaking rate. The analysis of the offshore wave climate at Alexandria showed that the prevailing waves come from the west-northwest, northwest and northeast. Computations were run on these prevailing wave directions for three potential configurations of the displaced wall: (i) without any protecting wall; (ii) with an emergent breakwater located roughly in a southwest-northeast direction in front of the excavations; and (iii) with a submerged breakwater in the same location.

Results can be used to assess the wave-driven longshore current responsible for suspended material transport. During a recent visit to the site, information on sediment conditions was collected. It seems that the risk of potential sedimentation by sand or mud should be considered carefully. The risk is increased by a nearby urban water outlet.

Tentative results from simulations were discussed during the workshop. General trends on the impact of the breakwater can be surmised, but further study is needed on sediment characteristics.

The preliminary conclusions need more precise quantification. A further integrated study should include: (i) the comprehensive analysis of available data; (ii) the acquisition of new relevant data; (iii) refined local numerical modelling of wave-driven currents, sand transport and pollutant circulation. Such computations would test configurations for the projected breakwater. The study might also include physical modelling for optimization of the selected configuration. Part of such an integrated study has already been undertaken at the Laboratoire National d’Hydraulique, within a European marine science and technology research project, in order to numerically estimate sediment deposition behind a detached breakwater under the action of frontal waves. Results from this study were presented to illustrate the methodology involved, which might be applied to the Alexandrian site.

Session VI

Underwater archaeological survey of Alexandria’s Eastern Harbour

A detailed underwater survey of the Eastern Harbour of Alexandria was carried out in 1996. The ancient shoreline with its harbours and dock works (covered by surprisingly little sediment) were located and mapped at a number of scales, with an error of less than 50 cm using a global positioning system. Separate maps of the two main archaeological sites were made at a scale of 1:100. The position of all the artefacts found was carefully determined.

Northern coast and submerged cities of Egypt

Over the last few years, the field of underwater archaeology has witnessed great activity and marvellous discoveries. One site particularly rich in underwater antiquities is Abu Qir Bay. It has indigenous architectural remains and exogenous artefacts such as sunken ships. Also important is the Eastern Harbour site, where an accurate, detailed map defining the royal harbours and palaces has been made by Mr Franck Goddio.

A Franco-Egyptian mission led by Prof. Jean-Yves Empereur surveyed the submerged site of the Pharos to the east of Qait Bey Citadel. Thirty-six of the approximately 2,000 pieces found at this site were saved and exhibited to the public. In 1914, Gaston Jondet found the ancient harbour, part of which had been built out of large stone blocks without mortar. Several classical sources (particularly from the 4th century AD) refer to the fact that the north-western coast was rich in archaeological sites and harbours and that there was continuous change in the number and importance of these harbours. Surveys have been carried out at various sites on this coast including Shaabtenam-El Bohairat, Ras Kanaes and Ras Hoala.

In concluding this survey of underwater archaeology, reference should be made to the many problems facing submerged sites. Foremost among these are tourist villages, drainage, corrosion, diving clubs and fishermen. Egypt has a lot to offer in the field of underwater antiquities and there are surely sites which still await discovery.

Session VII

Proposed survey of Alexandria harbours by a sonar sub-bottom profiler

The advance of sonar technology and computer display in the last decade has made detailed three-dimensional imaging and mapping of offshore features and structures possible. This technology has been used to display the buried part of the Ptolemaic palace precinct and the pre-Alexandrian structures in the Western Harbour, first observed by Jondet. A sonar sub-bottom profiler, developed at Woods Hole, is now able to resolve sediment layers 5 cm thick, to depths of 30 m. It can detect structures buried in ocean silt and sand, and so, by means of acoustic imaging, a virtual walk through the structures of the ancient shoreline is now possible.

Protection of shipwrecks: the experience of the Spanish National Maritime Archaeological Museum, Cartagena

The construction of a marina at Mazarron, Spain, in the years 1979–81, caused coastal changes in the Playa de la Isla. The primary, visible effect has been the disappearance of the entire beach. Tons of sand have been transported to other areas of the shore.

As a consequence, in the following eight years, the remains of two 7th century BC Phoenician vessels were discovered on the sea floor. In addition, about 8,000 pottery shards, of which about 70% are Phoenician, were found. The ships were built using the ‘mortise and tenon’ technique. Ship number 1 has been excavated and removed from Mazarron to the laboratories of the National Museum in Cartagena. Ship number 2 remains on the sea bottom.

A protection system was developed to avoid human or natural damage to ship number 2. This included passive protection, a combination of traditional tunnels with the design of a metallic modular strong box, and active protection, through close official co-operation with the Spanish sea-police. To date, we are still developing the system in collaboration with sport divers and amateur clubs.

Some remarks on the harbours of Sabratha, Libya – a case study

Sabratha Harbour was a natural outlet to the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, it was a Tripolitanian emporium, as was Oea (Tripoli) and Leptis Magna. To the north of the Forum and the Seaward Baths, one can see that the harbour is in part submerged and damaged due to its position on the reef. To the north and to the west of the Seaward Baths, one can discern the ruins of docks and a breakwater, whereas to the east of the ‘tonnara’ are perhaps the foundations of a lighthouse. The hypothesis that the harbour once extended toward the eastern end of the bay, near the Temple of Isis, is highly unlikely.

Sabratha Harbour, aside from being one of the main outlets from the Sahara Desert, was on one of the main routes to Rome on the African Mediterranean coast. Slaves, ivory and exotic animals were the valuable goods transported along this route. The symbol of the famous statue Sabrathensium, an elephant, is represented in the ‘Piazzale delle Corporazioni’, at Ostia.

Session VIII

National legislation and submarine archaeological sites

There are three sections of Egyptian legislation, which deal with matters related to submarine archaeological sites: Protection of the Environment, Protection of Archaeological Sites, and Protectorates and Natural Reserves in Egypt.

The major points covered in this legislation are:

To ensure full protection, underwater archaeological sites should be specifically mentioned in the legislation. Furthermore, any underwater archaeological park should come under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

Principles for the protection of underwater cultural heritage

(See also the version of this paper published in Mostafa et al., 2000)

UNESCO and other bodies have been interested in the protection of underwater cultural heritage for a long time and have undertaken a number of initiatives. This paper reviewed the major recommendations of the Organization and of various other agencies, as well some of the relevant activities and international principles involved. The main recommendations and conventions discussed were:

Other instruments under discussion are:

Other areas requiring consideration include setting priorities, seeking and proposing imaginative protective solutions, and recommendations on management for continuing the process.

Human impacts on Alexandria’s coastal environment

Alexandria’s environmental problems have grown in severity as its population and associated urban and industrial development have increased since the beginning of the 20th century. Alexandria interfaces with the sea along approximately 100 km of coastline. The adjacent marine environment is impacted by the daily disposal of large volumes of untreated municipal wastewater from several point sources. Of even greater concern are the ill-conceived and ill-informed coastal engineering works which have contributed, in some cases, to the irretrievable loss of submerged archaeological sites. A broad framework for an action plan and a management policy was outlined.

Session IX

Variability of currents and hydrography in the coastal zone of Alexandria

Data on currents and hydrography in the coastal area of Alexandria are important for biological and chemical marine studies, sediment transport, sewage disposal, and economic activities including fisheries. The protection and management of the coastal region, and in particular of archaeological sites of historic and tourism importance, requires data on environmental conditions. This paper presented the results of surveys on current patterns and variations, and hydrography, carried out in 1976, 1978 and 1985–1986. Proposals to develop a temporal and spatial database to help manage archaeological sites were presented.

Environmental issues associated with submarine archaeology along the Alexandria coast

This presentation described the current environmental status of Alexandria’s coastal archaeological sites. It reviewed the environmental issues associated with searching, locating, excavating and dating artefacts of ancient civilizations in Alexandria’s coastal belt. Protection of coastal archaeological resources through the formulation of an integrated coastal zone management plan and the development of legislation was discussed.

Session X

Preservation of wooden artefacts from underwater archaeological sites: the Neolithic wooden canoe from the Bracciano Lake, Central Italy

The submerged settlement of ‘La Marmotta’ (Anguillara Sabazia, Roma) in Lake Bracciano is a biological archive of exceptional importance. It represents the oldest Neolithic lake settlement in all of Europe (sixth millennium BC) and has produced a considerable amount of data. The archaeological surfaces of damp sites offer a rich source of paleo-environmental, biological and cultural data.

The excellent state of preservation of organic remains buried in submerged settlements permits detailed reconstruction of the way of life of ancient human communities, the surrounding natural habitat, and the relationship between man and the environment.

All organic and non-organic remains, such as wood, bone, horn, pottery, seeds, etc. when immersed in water for an extended period of time, undergo chemical, physical and biological degradation. This often results in profound structural changes depending on the nature of the artefact, the length of time the object has been in the water, the surrounding environmental conditions such as pH, pollution and the nature of the sediment. It is particularly important for organic remains to undergo protective treatment immediately on removal from the water. The artefacts may be subjected to further treatment for disinfection, restoration and conservation. The treatment of a large, one-piece oak canoe, found in the village under 8 m of water was described to illustrate the restoration procedures.

Conservation of mixed archaeological materials: Saadana Islands Shipwreck

The Institute of Nautical Archaeology is the pre-eminent American organization conducting research into nautical archaeology worldwide, and providing training for nautical archaeologists in the United States. Since the Institute of Nautical Archaeology-Egypt (INA-Egypt) established its permanent base in Alexandria in 1994, to explore Egypt’s nautical heritage, it has conducted four major projects and intends to continue its work.

As the Institute’s main interest is the exploration and excavation of ancient shipwrecks, its initial project in 1994 was the first-ever archaeological underwater survey of the Egyptian Red Sea coast from Al-Quseir north to Ras Mohamed. Twenty-six areas were visited along the coast, with more than 134 hours of diving, and several archaeological sites were located. During this survey the Saadana Island Shipwreck was located.

The Saadana Island Shipwreck is a 50 m long, 18th century, porcelain carrier of unknown nationality, located 20 km north of Port Safaga, and lying in 30–42 m of water at the foot of a fringing reef. This ongoing excavation was the second major project for INA–Egypt. During two excavation seasons, summer 1995 and 1996, over 3,000 dives were logged, excavating parts of the ship’s stern and midship section. Nearly 1,300 porcelain, earthenware, copper, glass and organic artefacts were recorded, raised and transported to the Alexandria Conservation Laboratory for Submerged Antiquities. As the methods used to build this ship are unknown, the ship itself is an artefact of extreme importance in the understanding of the Arabian Sea maritime trade of this period. The third and final season of excavation is planned for summer 1997.

The third project was the first shipwreck survey of the Egyptian Mediterranean coast west of Alexandria. The survey took place in March 1996, investigating 16 sites including six ancient harbours, along the 150 km coastline between Sidi Abd Al-Rahman and Ras Hawala. Material evidence for seafaring, discovered during the survey, dates from the 4th century BC to the 7th century AD. The experience gained from this survey has given knowledge of where and how ships are likely to have sunk along the northwest coast, and how to find them. With this knowledge and experience, INA–Egypt’s second northwest survey was planned for September 1997.

Marine archaeology involves surveys, excavations and the collection of artefacts. The latter, especially from marine sites, require conservation. With that in mind, in October 1994, INA-Egypt submitted a plan to the Supreme Council of Antiquities to convert five outbuildings at the National Maritime Museum in Alexandria into a complex for conserving antiquities from INA–Egypt projects. Permission was granted to begin renovation in April 1995. The first task was to build two tanks for artefact storage and desalination. The five buildings, completed in November 1996, have become the Alexandria Conservation Laboratory for Submerged Antiquities, and include laboratory space, store rooms, mechanical space and rooms for photographic and written documentation and research. Artefacts from Saadana Island and the surveys are currently being conserved by INA–Egypt staff and conservators from the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

These four projects, involving survey, excavation and conservation, lay the pattern for INA–Egypt’s future contribution to research into Egypt’s nautical heritage. The intention is to continue surveys and excavations, developing the Alexandria Conservation Laboratory, to create a lasting legacy of archaeological research and illuminate a little-known aspect of Egypt’s long history.

Implications of climatic changes and sea-level variations on Alexandria

The presentation was based on a study to evaluate expected climate change and sea-level rise and their impact on the Alexandrian region and its archaeological sites. This evaluation is based on the integration of the expected rise in sea-level, geomorphic land-use analysis, and an assessment of the socio-economic impact on the low-lying areas of Alexandria. Low-lying coastal zones are highly vulnerable to even minor changes in sea-level, particularly when sediment supply is limited. Moreover, predicted global warming may accelerate sea-level rise.

Relative sea-level rise, which includes the effect of land subsidence or uplift based on tide gauge records at Alexandria, indicates a range of 2–2.9 mm/year. A short time series of annual tide gauge data indicates uplift of the Alexandrian area by 0.7 mm/year.

Few studies have been published regarding the impact of sea-level rise on Alexandria. Various sea-level scenarios plotted on land-use maps indicate that sea-level rise will have social and economic effects on Alexandria. None of the studies applied predictive models, such as the Brunn Rule, to predict beach profile changes resulting from a rise in the water level. Nor did they assess the negative consequences on inland and submerged archaeological sites. It is expected that the main consequences of occasional, cyclical higher sea-levels, especially in low-lying coastal archaeological sites such as El-Shatby and Roushdy, will be sea flooding and disruption of groundwater flow. Seawater penetration of these sites will affect the archaeological monuments. Regarding the submerged archaeological remains in Abu Qir Bay and the Eastern Harbour, sea-level rise would be expected to change offshore bottom profiles, and influence coastal processes and the morphology of the coastline. No studies have been made to evaluate the effect of seasonal climate variations on Alexandria. Storm surges in association with the local sea-level rise are significant in changing the morphology of the sea bottom. These changes would facilitate the removal of sand from beneath submerged archaeological remains and thus accelerate the processes of sinking and burying them.

Session XI

Data management in underwater archaeology

The ultimate goal of archaeology is to obtain knowledge about the past, and to make this information available to other scholars and the general public. Beyond making fascinating archaeological finds, the archaeologist must also manage a vast amount of data and transform this data into meaningful interpretations of the past using new technology. In underwater archaeology, data management is even more important than in other research situations because the excavation phase of research is normally short and it is essential to collect data as quickly as possible. In addition, due to the nature of the area excavated, it is not possible for the public to visit these sites, so archaeologists must utilize various forms of media to disseminate the results obtained.

Modern development and ancient maritime sites in the Tyrrhenian Sea

Ancient monuments located in the coastal zone can indicate past environmental changes, and thus contribute important information to coastal management. Such is the case for maritime installations that were constructed for residential or utilitarian use. Often these structures, particularly harbours, are susceptible to considerable damage from unwise modern exploitation of the coastline. This has been the case on the Italian coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea where there is a concentration of Roman ports. It was recently calculated that nearly 80% of ancient Mediterranean harbours have been lost due to human activity.

In the same boat and learning the ropes: an Alexandria/Boston comparison

The management of submerged cultural resources involves a diverse set of problems, competing interests and difficult decisions. While archaeologists agree there should be no difference in treatment between terrestrial and submerged cultural resources, this is not usually the perception held by other parties who have an interest in these resources. Problems arise as to the appropriate identification, evaluation and protection of these resources. Frameworks must be developed which recognize and accommodate a wide range of appropriate uses for these non-renewable resources. These might include recreational, economic, environmental and heritage uses.

While some solutions are readily found in traditional archaeological management regimes, the diverse and competing interests in submerged cultural resources make many treatments unfeasible. There is a strong need for cross-disciplinary understanding and collaboration among archaeologists, resource managers, marine scientists, engineers, other interested parties and stockholders to ensure the appropriate management of these resources. By drawing on experiences in the development of Boston Harbour and Massachusetts coastal waters, which parallel Alexandria, this paper attempted to address these divergent interests and describe initiatives to promote and protect the underwater heritage.

Workshop results and closure


Based on the deliberations of the working groups and the plenary group, the following recommendations were adopted.

The International Workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management, Alexandria, 7–11 April 1997,
Recognizing the necessity for a strategic framework for future management of underwater and onshore cultural heritage and the need for urgent action to protect and preserve the Qait Bey/ Pharos area,
Recommends to the national authorities including:


a) Qait Bey/Pharos area pilot project

  1. An assessment should be made of the present condition of the Qait Bey Citadel and the erosion threat. A request to UNESCO should be considered, soliciting its assistance in identifying and dispatching competent international experts in engineering and coastal processes. Any suggested intervention should take into consideration the need to protect and preserve the integrity of both the submerged lighthouse site and the Citadel.

  2. Concurrently, a targeted programme to collect, analyse and interpret key environmental data should be implemented immediately in order to quickly identify (4–6 months) temporary remedial action. This work should stabilize the erosion threatening the Citadel, without compromising the integrity of the underwater archaeological site, until such time as a lasting solution can be found.

  3. No further remedial action, including the placement of more cement blocks, should take place until the assessment of the Citadel proposed in paragraph 1, and the study on temporary remedial action proposed in paragraph 2, are completed. Appropriate agencies and experts should be consulted before any counter measures are undertaken.

  4. Competent archaeological experts should be requested to complete, as far as is possible, the survey and mapping of the underwater archaeological site of the lighthouse.

  5. The data collection programme (see paragraph 2) should be extended and, if necessary, expanded to provide the environmental information required to identify and implement a long-term and lasting solution which will, to the greatest extent possible, maintain the integrity of both the Qait Bey Citadel and the Pharos Lighthouse.

  6. An ad hoc Task Force, possibly co-ordinated by UNESCO, should be established; it should include specialists from relevant decision-making bodies such as the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, the Coastal Protection Authority, the Ministry of Transport (marine transport), the Institute of Coastal Research, the University of Alexandria, the Governorate of Alexandria, along with experts in submarine archaeology and coastal processes. This inter-sectoral Task Force will be responsible for setting an overall strategy for implementing and monitoring this pilot project.

b) Long-term management plan

  1. A strategic framework should be drafted for the conservation and integrated management of Alexandria’s coastal heritage, both cultural and natural. It should be incorporated into the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency’s coastal management plan.

  2. The placement of concrete blocks inside or outside the Eastern Harbour and any increased use or activity in the Eastern Harbour and Qait Bey area should be stopped until the survey recommended in paragraphs a) 2 and a) 3 above has been completed. Urgent action should be taken to stop the discharge of wastewater into the Eastern Harbour.

  3. A survey of the archaeological sites, the geomorphological and hydrodynamic processes, the environmental conditions and state of pollution of the coast of Greater Alexandria should be conducted. The experts and agencies involved should liaise with the Department of Underwater Archaeology of the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

  4. The Qait Bey and Pharos sites should continue to be monitored after the initial surveys are complete.

  5. On the basis of the surveys, see paragraphs a) 2, a) 3, a) 4, b) 3 and b) 4 above, work priorities should be listed so that critical problems can be faced in a timely manner.

  6. Existing laws should be studied to ensure that the special problems of the underwater archaeological sites of Alexandria are appropriately dealt with and in particular:

  1. The potential economic value of the archaeological sites of Alexandria for tourists and visitors should be studied, e.g. development of museums and archaeological parks on land and underwater.

  2. A small group should be established to follow up the recommendations of this workshop, to prepare project proposals and investigate funding possibilities.


The workshop further recognizes the importance of the following issues:

Alexandria Declaration

Prof. Hassan El-Banna Awad, the rapporteur, made the following declaration on behalf of the participants of the workshop, during the closing session on the 10 April 1997.

The significance of Alexandria in history has made the threat to its land and marine archaeological sites a matter of urgent concern to Egypt and the world.

Recommendations dealing with the erosion under the Qait Bey Fortress and long-term preservation and management of the cultural assets of Alexandria have been made by the scientific community attending the International Workshop on Submarine Archaeology and Coastal Management. With the co-operation of the world community, we believe that Egypt will be able to succeed in the stated goals of preserving the cultural heritage of the City of Alexandria as part of the heritage of all humanity.


The workshop was closed with addresses by Prof. Mostafa Hassan Mostafa, Vice-President for Graduate Studies and Research of the University of Alexandria, and Prof. Fathy Abu Aianah, Vice-President for Student Affairs of the University of Alexandria.


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