Marsa Bagoush, CMAUCH

Emad Khalil, CMAUCH

The site of Marsa Bagoush was discovered in 2010 by a group of students from Alexandria University. Archaeological survey of the site by the Alexandria Centre for Maritime Archaeology & Underwater Cultural Heritage started in 2015. The Marsa Bagoush project aimed to survey and document the underwater archaeological remains in the eastern bay of Marsa Bagoush (ancient Zygris). From 2015 to 2017 the eastern bay was surveyed (c. 340,000 m2) and evidence for at least three shipwrecks was identified. The wrecks date back to the Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic periods.

In 2017 the western bay of Marsa Bagoush (ancient Ladamantia) was explored. It was found to contain extensive evidence for maritime activities including different types of amphorae and the largest collection of ancient anchors found in Egypt outside Alexandria. Accordingly, from 2017 to 2020 an area of c. 480,000 m2 was surveyed and the underwater archaeological material was documented.

The project revealed that ancient Zygris/Ladamantia was one of the largest and most active ancient anchorages along the northern coast of Egypt, which has been in use from at least the 3rd century BC to the early 20th century. Ancient text from the Early Roman Period mentions that the site was a safe harbour that can be accessed in any wind, unlike most anchorages on the NW coast of Egypt. The site was also associated with a network of Roman underground water cisterns which was a major attraction for boats traveling along the Egyptian coastline. The cisterns network was also recorded as part of the project.

The earliest evidence we have are stamped amphora handles (Zenon B) from Knidos (3th century BC), while the latest evidence is an inscription of the name of the British warship HMS Pangbourne, which operated in the Mediterranean in the 1930s. The site also contains the largest collection of ancient anchors recorded so far in Egypt outside Alexandria; thirty-two anchors have been recorded so far.

The project, so far, has surveyed less than half the total area of Marsa Bagoush (c. 3 km2), hence, it is expected that more archaeological remains will be discovered and recorded during the coming seasons.

More information is also available on the CMAUCH website