Leukaspis or Locassis was a thriving Greco-Roman port and city on the northern Egyptian coast founded in the 2nd century BC which grew to a population of 15,000 residents at its peak. Today, the archaeological site of Marina El-Alamein lies around 5 kilometres from the modern town of El-Alamein and includes the remains of the classical harbour city which flourished until the 4th century AD.
Also known as Antiphrae, Leukaspis was a commercial hub of the Mediterranean olive, wine and wheat industries, conducting trade both inland and overseas. Merchants lived in lavish 2-storey villas that lined zigzagging streets boasting courtyards of pillars. In the centre of Leukaspis, 2 main streets intersected at the economic and social heart of the city, which featured a basilica like most other notable Roman settlements.
Leukaspis gained much of its wealth from the sea: beginning as a coastal trade spot between Egypt and Libya, later exporting goods from farms nearby overseas. However, in 365 AD Leukaspis was utterly devastated by a tsunami – an after effect of an earthquake in Crete 300 miles away – as was Alexandria nearby.
When Chinese engineers started digging in 1986 to build new roads for the resort they found the remains of ancient tombs and houses from the 2nd century town. Around 200 acres were preserved for archaeology while the rest of the marina was transformed into holiday villages.
Unfortunately, extensive development of the area around Leukaspis has meant that much of the former port has been lost among a sprawl of luxury holiday homes. However, parts of Leukaspis have been carefully excavated and form the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site which you can wander through today.
Amongst the ruins at the Marina el-Alamein Archaeological Site are the remains of villas, baths, a theatre, a necropolis (burial site) and an agora (town square/marketplace). One of the main buildings to be seen is a basilica, which began as a public hall and then became a church following the rise of Christianity.
Nearby is the El-Alamein Battlefield and museum – an important site in the Allied African Campaign during World War Two.
Getting to Leukaspis
Located beside the coast along the 40 road or the Alexandria – Marsa Matrouh Road, Leukapsis (also known as Marina El Alamein) is an hour and a half drive from Alexandria.