Cairo, June 24 :
Russian experts have found several rifles and pistols dating back to the 18th century in the depths of the Mediterranean near the port of Alexandria, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damati said.
The discovery was made during an underwater search for sunken ships in an area north of Pharos island in Anfushi Bay.
Preliminary examination of the firearms identified their provenance as a ship of the French military campaign under Napoleon Bonaparte that was defeated in May 1798 by a British fleet at the western entrance to the port of Alexandria.
The discovery opens the way to more extensive studies and underwater exploration, al-Damati said.
The arms recovered will be restored to repair the damage caused to them by time and the seawater, the director general of underwater archaeology said.
In June 1999, Egyptian and French scientists launched a large-scale operation to recover the remains of Napoleon’s fleet, sunk in 1798 in Aboukir Bay, a few kilometers east of the port of Alexandria.
Though the history of the naval battle of Aboukir Bay was perfectly documented, the whereabouts of the sunken French ships remained unknown for 200 years, until a team of underwater researchers found them in 1998.