“Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds“
On 19 May 2016 the British Museum in London has opened the exhibition “Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds”, featuring finds from the underwater archaeological expeditions conducted off the coast of Egypt by Franck Goddio and his team from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM). It is the first exhibition of underwater archaeology ever mounted by the British Museum.
The focus of the exhibition is on the submerged cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus in the present-day Bay of Aboukir, where Frank Goddio has been excavating since the late 1990s in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and with support of the Hilti Foundation. 200 fascinating objects that came to light during the underwater archaeological excavations form the major part of the exhibition. They are supplemented by masterpieces from Egyptian museums, many of which have never been exhibited outside Egypt. Important objects from the British Museum’s collection also form part of the exhibition. They present Naukratis, the first Greek settlement in Egypt, which entertained close relations with Thonis-Heracleion.
“My team and I, as well as the Hilti Foundation and the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Oxford (OCMA) with which we have been co-operating for years, are delighted that the exhibition with discoveries from our underwater archaeological expeditions off the coast of Egypt are on display at the British Museum”, says Franck Goddio. “It enables us to share with the public the results of years of work at the sunken cities and our fascination for ancient worlds and civilisations.”
The exhibition features a variety of objects from the Late Period (664-332 BCE) and the Greco-Roman Period (332 BCE - 295 CE) of ancient Egypt, ranging from modest everyday objects to magnificent monumental statues depicting pharaohs and deities. They tell of the encounter and interaction between the Greek and Egyptian communities in Egypt. Cult objects and temple utensils additionally underscore the significance of Thonis-Heracleion as a religious centre. Small votive barques made of lead found in the city’s sacred waterways bear unique witness to one of the most important religious ceremonies of ancient Egypt, the Mysteries of Osiris. Homage to Osiris, god of the underworld and resurrection, took a very special form in Thonis-Heracleion, to which these exhibits eloquently testify.
Sunken cities: Egypt’s lost worlds. An exhibition by the British Museum organised with the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) and the Hilti Foundation. 19 Mai - 27 November 2016, Information und tickets: www.britishmuseum.org
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