In the early 2000s, however, a group of divers working off the Egyptian coast found a large fragment of rock under the seabed, and brought it up to land. It was a piece of Hapy, salt-encrusted but intact. They continued searching, and eventually unearthed six more. Around these pieces lay other treasures: the ruins of temples, shards of pottery, precious jewellery, coins, oil lamps, processional barges and busts.
“As an archaeologist, discovering a tomb is exciting, but it’s the tomb of one individual,” says Aurélia Masson-Berghoff, curator of the Sunken Cities exhibition at the British Museum. “Discovering a whole city, which was home to thousands and thousands of people over more than a thousand years … Well, that’s something else.”