This major exhibition focuses on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean seabed. Running from 19 May – 27 November 2016, it is the Museum's first large-scale exhibition of underwater discoveries. It shows how the exploration of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus – submerged at the mouth of the River Nile for over a thousand years – is transforming our understanding of the relationship between ancient Egypt and the Greek world, and the great importance of these ancient cities.
Likely founded during the 7th century BC, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were busy, cosmopolitan cities that once sat on adjacent islands at the edge of the fertile lands of the Egyptian Delta. After Alexander the Great's conquest of Egypt in 332BC, centuries of Greek (Ptolemaic) rule followed. The exhibition will reveal how cross-cultural exchange and religion flourished, particularly the worship of the Egyptian god of the afterlife, Osiris.
By the 8th century AD, the sea had reclaimed the cities and they lay hidden several meters beneath the seabed, their location and condition unclear. The exhibition shows how a pioneering European team, led by Franck Goddio in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, made use of the most up-to-date technologies to find them.
Preserved and buried under the sea for over a thousand years, the exhibition's stunning objects range from magnificent colossal statues to intricate gold jewellery. They tell stories of political power and popular belief, myth and migration, gods and kings. The exhibition journeys through centuries of encounters between two celebrated cultures presenting, along the way, iconic historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hadrian and Antinous.