Biblical Archaeology Review 41:6, November/December 2015

Exhibit Watch: Ancient Egypt Underwater

Besieged by a cataclysmic earthquake and engulfed in tidal waves, the once-great cities of Heracleion and Canopus in Egypt’s Nile Delta sank into the sea in the eighth century A.D. They remained hidden until 2000, when the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology organized an expedition to the submerged area—approximately 40 square miles—where they believed the cities were located. Directed by marine archaeologist Franck Goddio, the expedition has discovered two, or maybe three, cities.

From statues of Egyptian gods, pharaohs and priests to jewelry, steles and architectural columns, the expedition has uncovered many stunning finds, some of which will be on display for the first time in the exhibit Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt at the Arab World Institute in Paris. Two hundred and ninety artifacts, including an oil lamp found near a temple at Heracleion that would have been used in ancient ceremonies for the Egyptian god Osiris, will appear in the exhibit. Osiris, Sunken Mysteries of Egypt will also feature film footage, which will create a special viewing experience for attendees.

Heracleion and Canopus stood for about a thousand years before being swallowed by the sea. Heracleion was founded around the eighth century B.C., and the earliest mention of Canopus comes from the early sixth century B.C. Both cities are known from ancient and Classical sources, and now, thanks to maritime archaeology, the cities are known to us once more.

Through January 31, 2016
Arab World Institute
Paris, France

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