Napoleon’s Lost Fleet.

The fleet that had carried Bonaparte and his scientists to Egypt was destroyed by Nelson during the famous battle of Aboukir in the bay north-east of Alexandria on 1 August 1798.

The wreck of the flagship of this fleet, the Orient, was discovered by Jacques Dumas in 1983. In 1998, thirteen years after the death of its initiator, the excavation of the Orient was resumed by Franck Goddio and continued for several years. In addition to the Orient, with a tonnage of more than 2700 tons and carrying 126 cannons, the frigates Artémise and Sérieuse were uncovered. The Serious, the smallest ship in the fleet, sank in a desperate attempt to block the path of the British fleet.

Seven anchors belonging to different ships were found around the Orient. They help to reconstruct the exact positions of some ships just before the tremendous explosion that destroyed the Orient.

One of the most remarkable results of the work of the IEASM, directed by Franck Goddio, is the creation of detailed maps of the seabed in the Bay of Aboukir. These maps allow us to understand the positioning of the ships during the battle and shed light on the tactics of both sides as well as the course of the battle. The arrangement of the wreckage of the Orient and its dispersion over more than half a square kilometre has led to the conclusion that the gigantic warship was not destroyed by one explosion as previously thought, but by two almost simultaneous explosions.

In addition to the cannons, weapons and ammunition, numerous everyday objects were found that provide valuable information on the daily life on board and on the crew of the ships. In addition, numerous gold, silver and copper coins from France were discovered, some dating back to the time of Louis XIV, others to the time of Louis XV, the majority to the time of Louis XVI. Even more surprising are the gold coins from Malta, the Ottoman Empire, Venice, Spain and Portugal, which suggest that they may be part of the Maltese treasure that Bonaparte, on his way to Egypt, had plundered.

Publication in progress.