Egypt's Underwater Treasures to Go on Display at British Museum


While tourists have flocked to the Valley of the Kings for centuries, some of Egypt’s incredible antiquities have been hidden underwater for more than 1200 years.

Accessible only by scuba divers, these well-preserved treasures, artifacts, and statues were the remnants of two important trade cities, Herakleion and Canopus. Over the past two decades, a team of archaeologists has excavated the submerged ruins, which lay buried in the mouth of the Nile River. Now, The Guardian reports that 200 recovered items will soon go on display for the first time at the British Museum, alongside other rarely seen items seldom shown outside of Egypt.

Called Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds, the exhibition will open in May 2016 and run for six months. It will be the institution’s first exhibition to highlight underwater archaeology finds, including several prominent sculptures of Egyptian dynastic figures and gods. It will also examine the legacies of Herakleion (also known as Thonis) and Canopus, which were once rich hubs of cultural exchange between Greece and Egypt.

The two cities were founded in the 7th century BCE but were swallowed by the sea around the 8th century CE. Although archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team first discovered the ruins in 1996, most of them still lay buried under layers of mud and silt. Historians plan to leave most of the findings in the ocean, but they hope that the objects they have uncovered—like a stela with a royal decree from the pharaoh Nectanebo I, and a 6-ton statue of the Nile water and fertility deity Hapi—will teach us more about the Mediterranean’s ancient history. Learn more about the two rediscovered cities in the video above.

All images courtesy of YouTube 

 [h/t The Guardian]