Spatializing the Historical Topography of Alexandria for Sustainable Development

Lecture by Mohamed Ahmed Soliman, Archaeological Affairs of Old Cairo-Ministry of Antiquities

  • 6:00 p.m.Cairo Center
  • American Research Center in Egypt2 Midan Simón Bolívar
    Garden City, Cairo
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A narrow strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea to the north and Lake Mareotis to the south was an excellent site for a city. In 332 BC a Greek architect Deinocrates of Rhodes was asked to build Alexander’s new city. The streets lay in a crisscross pattern planned into five quarters named after the first five Greek characters. Many splendid buildings were built, including a magnificent lighthouse erected on the Island of Pharos – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Pharos was joined to the mainland by an overpass, a thick wall built in the sea called the Heptastadium encompassed with the Great Harbor to the east and the Eunostos Harbor – or “Harbor of Safe Return” – to the west. A17 km long canal was dug from the nearest branch of the River Nile to conducts fresh water into a complicated underground network beneath Alexandria.

Alexandria was surveyed by travelers, officers, and spies for several purposes produced historic maps; some were not precise enough due to technical reasons or rushing. Chosen historic maps extracted from; “Atlas Historique de la ville des ports d’ Alexandrie” edited by M. Gaston Jondet in 1921 CE, includes 55 maps for the topographic evolution of the city since Ugonem Comminelli’s maritime map in 1472 CE to M. G. Jondet’s map in 1920 CE. Passing through the Napoleonic map (1798-1801 CE) and Mahmoud Pasha el-Falaki’s (the Astronomer) in 1859 CE, who surveyed Alexandria for scientific purposes responding to Khedive Ismail’s order (1863-1897 CE), both of them considered the most accurate historic maps of the Atlas. El-Falaki’s map shows ancient natural and human landmarks still exist so far; lead to trace the topographic changes. However, Alexandria is a perfect multilayered city; so that exploration has priority but has a negative impact causing widespread terrestrial subsidence.

The application of GPR in archaeological assessment is a well-known procedure. Three areas have been examined using GPR technique at Alexandria; Sultan Husain Street, Khartom Square and Nabi Danial Street. For this study, the used GPR device is the unique Russian system LOZA model LOZA-V. The data was significant and has indicated the possibility of archaeological remains. Some other features were noticed which require additional geophysical techniques. Therefore, another episode of geophysical survey is recommended.

In that context, spatializing the historic topography of Alexandria via remote sensing and GIS build informatics database supports the national sustainable development strategy of 2030, mainly the capacity of the urban area, roads, traffic and transportation, add to the tourism industry.