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In the heart of a metropolitan city of 15 million people and among the construction of a new billion-dollar transportation network, an archaeological sensation has been discovered: the ancient harbor of Theodosious.  Theodosious was the last ruler over both Eastern and Western portions of a unified Roman Empire; the harbor has been buried and shrouded in mystery for over 800 years…until now. 

Istanbul, Turkey, is situated exactly between Europe and Asia. It has, since prehistoric times, bridged the gap between these continents, their cultures and its people. Engineers are working to connect East to West through a spectacular 1.4 kilometer railway tunnel, 60 meters below the surface, but they've been stalled by the discovery of the Emperor's Lost Harbor.

The 'sacking of Constantinople' in 1204 by the Venetians and the Crusaders

In Byzantium times up to 500,000 people lived in this melting pot metropolis, yet, very little is known about the visual history of this city. Its sudden disappearance in the 1200s has also remained a mystery.

Istanbul is situated on an anatolian fault, which meets at the two continental plates – the region frequently suffers from tremors – often up to 10,000 a year.  This would have been no different in Byzantine times, so was it an earthquake, or perhaps a tsunami that wiped out this incredible byzantine harbor?  Canadian geologist Nick Eyles will introduce us to the people who are working to discover the truth.

A team of 400 archeologists, engineers, laborers and scientists, led by Ufuk Kocabas, are racing to finish evacuations. As the 2012 transportation deadline draws closer, they face pressure from the transit authorities. Can the dig team fight off the pressures and complete their work before the window into the past closes?

Uncovering artifacts

The site so far has unearthed hundreds of incredible artifacts dating from the seventh to the eleventh centuries, including 32 watercraft, four naval galleries, more than 170 gold coins, hundreds of clay, ivory, bronze, wooden and porcelain objects. They've even recovered bones of camels, bears, ostriches, elephants, lions and human skulls.

We will follow Kocabas and the scientists on their quest to save and preserve these treasures and solve this giant puzzle. We will see how the remains of the boats are conserved in huge water basins, how models are created that map the contours of the ships and how high-tech measurement systems create digital copies of the artifacts.

To bring the ancient harbor to life, 3D artist Tayfun Öner will be creating a digital Constantinople. These images will be revealed during the film and, for the first time, the harbor will be accurately brought to life.  Using three-dimensional computer models, digital ariel shots and digital characters, Tayfun and animator Paul Bewegt will create an overview of the whole ancient city.  Their work will be a unique, visual representation of Constantinople in the 12th century.  (see their work so far)

The Emperor's Lost Harbor is a contemporary story of discovery and mystery. The film will provide fascinating insight into the unknown as we follow a unique visual journey of archeology, discovery, replication and geology.

The Emperor's Lost Harbor is directed by Hannes Schuler and written by Sally Blake for PTV Productions Inc. and Films À Trois

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