The Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds exhibition inaugurated in London

Nevine El-Aref , Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Minister of Antiquities inaugurated the first major exhibition of underwater archaeology at the British Museum in London

On Tuesday evening, Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany inaugurated the first major exhibition of underwater archaeology held at the British Museum in London.

During the opening ceremony, El-Enany delivered a speech highlighting the strong partnership and friendly relations that Egypt shares with Britain, not only in the field of archaeology and museology, but in other several domains.

"The relation with Britain in the field of archaeology started as early as the 1880s when Flinders Petrie started excavation in Delta," he pointed out, adding that the ministry is encouraging all kinds of cooperation with all international archaeological and museology institutions but within the framework of both of the fields code of ethics.

At the end of his speech, El- Enany invited all the attendees to come to Egypt to explore its unique archaeological sites and distinguished museums.

Under the title Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds, The British Museum staged a major exhibition on two lost Egyptian cities and their recent rediscovery by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean Sea.

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.

Elham Salah, head of the Museums Department at the antiquities ministry, explained that the exhibition displays a collection of 300 outstanding objects including more than 200 spectacular finds excavated off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria between 1996 and 2012.

It is supplemented with objects from various sites across the Delta drawn from the British Museum’s collection, most notably from Naukratis – a sister harbour town to Thonis -- Heracleion and the first Greek settlement.

Frank Goddio who led the head of the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology said that the exhibition features a number of extraordinary, monumental sculptures.

A 5.4m granite statue of the Nile God Hapy is greeting the visitors as they enter the space allocated for the exhibition.

Masterpieces from Egyptian museums such as the Apis bull from the Serapeum in Alexandria is on show alongside magnificent recent finds from the sea.

One such piece is the stunning sculpture from Canopus representing Arsinoe II, the eldest daughter of Ptolemy I, founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

A complete stela from Thonis-Heracleion advertises a 380BC royal decree of the Egyptian pharaoh Nectanebo I, is also exhibited.

It states that 10% of the taxes collected on all goods imported from the ‘Sea of the Greeks’ into Thonis-Heracleion and on all trade operations at Naukratis are to be donated to an Egyptian temple.

The exhibition will open to visitors tomorrow. It is supported by BP, organised with Hilti Foundation and the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology in collaboration with Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities.

Short link: