British Museum to host exhibition of Egyptian underwater treasures
The British Museum has announced details of a major exhibition featuring Egyptian treasures hidden beneath the sea for over a thousand years.
The exhibition, entitled 'Sunken cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds', will feature artefacts discovered by archaeologists beneath the Mediterranean seabed.
These objects originate from the cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, bustling cities founded in the 7th century B.C on the edge of the Egyptian Delta. However, by the 8th century A.D both cities had been lost beneath the rising ocean, and their secrets lay undisturbed until archaeologists began excavating the site in 1996.
They discovered an incredible array of objects, from monumental statues to delicate pieces of jewellery, all remarkably well preserved underwater for over a millennium.
Now 200 of these items will be displayed alongside another 100 exhibits, including many important loans from Egyptian museums and pieces from the British Museum's own collection.
The history of these two important cities and the artefcats they produced includes Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332BC, followed by centuries of Greek rule during which both cultures exchanged ideas and religious practices.
“People sometimes assume that when two cultures mix, the essence of each is diluted and, as a result, weakened; this exhibition demonstrates the opposite," said Aurélia Masson-Berghoff, exhibition curator at the British Museum.
"It is a rare opportunity to reveal the beauty and strength of Late Pharaonic art and culture, alongside the latest research on the momentous intermingling between Egyptian and Greek communities in Egypt at this time. We are illustrating this vibrant cosmopolitan world through Egyptian, Greek and ‘hybrid’ artworks, rarely ever displayed side by side. It shows ancient Egypt not as an isolated civilisation, but as the outward looking, influential and inclusive society that it was.”
Sponsored by BP, the exhibition Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds opens at the British Museum in May 2016 and is set to run for six months.
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