Cleopatra’s palace sank long ago into the Mediterranean, but visitors to Alexandria, Egypt, may eventually view the complex’s remnants via the world’s first underwater museum.

A site for the museum has been proposed near the New Library of Alexandria, where the famed queen of Egypt is believed to have sheltered herself with her lover Marc Antony before taking her own life.

In early September the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, announced it is funding a team to determine if such a museum would damage the submerged artifacts.

If built, the museum could display treasures and monuments of her palace, which once stood on an island in one of the largest human-made bays in the world but were submerged by earthquakes from the fourth century A.D. onward.

An eroded sphinx, shown in an undated photo, isn’t much more than a silhouette in the Bay of Alexandria’s dusky waters.
The marble head of Roman princess Antonia Minor, mother of Emperor Claudius, rests on sand at the now sunken site of Cleopatra’s Alexandria, Egypt
Twin sphinxes flank a statue of a priest of Isis amid fallen columns on Alexandria’s sunken island of Antirhodos. The statue was raised in 1998 and became part of a traveling exhibition

The bay is filled archaeological sunken treasures. In the 1990s archaeologist-divers found thousands of objects: 26 sphinxes, statues bearing gifts to the gods, blocks weighing up to 56 tons, and even Roman and Greek shipwrecks. […]

The proposed museum would be both inland and underwater. The dual nature is intended to create an experience like that of a traditional museum while also allowing visitors to witness artifacts in their submerged states. […]

The larger, inland museum will have underwater fiberglass tunnels to structures where visitors can view antiquities still lying on the seabed. But the bay’s murky waters could obscure the views of submerged monuments. The builders of the museum will either have to clean the water or replace it entirely with an artificial lagoon.

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