Egypt’s Sunken Treasures

5 April 2007 to 27 January 2008

Egypt's Sunken Treasures presents a spectacular collection of artefacts recovered from the seabed off the coast of Alexandria and in Aboukir Bay. Lost from view for more than a thousand years, they were brought to light as part of an ongoing series of expeditions first launched in 1992 by the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology headed by Franck Goddio in co-operation with Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. Franck Goddio's expeditions and this exhibition are supported by the Hilti Foundation.

Thanks to Franck Goddio's excavations important parts of a lost world have resurfaced, among them the ancient city of Thonis-Heracleion, the eastern reaches of Canopus as well as the sunken part of the Great Port of Alexandria and the city's legendary royal quarter. The finds shed new light on the history of those cities and on the history of Egypt as a whole over a period of almost 1500 years: from the last pharaonic dynasties in the Canopic region to the rise of the Ptolemies after the death of Alexander the Great, followed by Roman control, the advent of Christianity in Byzantine late antiquity and, finally, the dawn of the Islamic era.

Famous for its temples, especially those of the god-king Osiris, Canopus was the site where the goddess Isis was believed to have found the fourteenth and last part of Osiris's savaged body. According to Egyptian mythology Osiris was murdered and his dismembered body scattered all over Egypt by his jealous brother Seth. Isis, so legend has it, assembled the scattered pieces and placed them in a vase at Canopus. Osiris, who also summoned the annual floods, is often represented in the shape of a 'canopic' vase with a stopper in the shape of a crowned head. In Roman times the port city was notorious for its dissoluteness and debauchery. In the Christian era an important monastery was erected on the site of the ancient temples. Gold jewellery, precious stones, crucifixes, a wedding ring and numerous official seals from the monastery bear testimony to this period. Canopus was claimed by the sea at some point in the 8th century; and indeed there are no finds that can be dated any later than the 8th-century Umayyad coins recovered from the seabed at the site of the vanished city.


Ägyptens versunkene Schätze
464 pages with 600 color illustrations, 10 maps
Format 25 x 28,7 cm
Museum edition: 19,95 EUR
Trade edition: Prestel, München
ISBN: 978-3-7913-3828-6

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  1. Image from Exhibition Photo: Peter Oszvald © Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH

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