Jordan discovers ruins of port thought to date as far back as seventh century in underwater survey

Port of Ayla was active from 7th to 12th century, and formed part of trade route linking Levant with Middle East, Asia and Africa

The ruins were discovered on the Aqaba Gulf on the Red Sea
The ruins were discovered on the Aqaba Gulf on the Red Sea

Traces of a centuries-old sunken marine port have been uncovered in Jordan after officials undertook the country’s first underwater archaeological survey.

Ehab Eid, head of the Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan (JREDS), said the survey had unearthed an ancient underwater barrier with an L-shape, roughly 50 metres long and eight metres wide.

The ruins are believed to form part of the ancient Red Sea port of Ayla, near the modern city of Aqaba.

Mr Eid said he expected the findings to pave the way for further discoveries.

“The barrier is connected to a solid mud floor which extends outside the coast. The solid mud floor was found to be interspersed with a two-lane corridor which connects the port and the sea gate to the city and its stores. It is suggested that the lane was used for the transport of the port’s imports and exports,” the survey’s results, seen by The Jordan Times, read.

The port of Ayla was active from the seventh to the 12th century, and was part of a trade route linking the Levant with other parts of the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Initial excavations in search of Ayla’s ruins were conducted along the beach of Aqaba from 1986-1997.

The latest survey was carried out in partnership with the USAID-funded project “Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities”, and in cooperation with the Department of Antiquities.

Additional reporting by AP

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