Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus rise from the seas

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Stela commissioned by Nectanebo I (r. 378–362 BC), Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt, 380 BC. Photo Christoph Gerigk. © Franck GoddioHilti Foundation.

Stela commissioned by Nectanebo I (r. 378–362 BC), Thonis-Heracleion, Egypt, 380 BC. Photo Christoph Gerigk. © Franck Goddio Hilti Foundation.

In May a new exhibition opens at the British Museum which tells the story of two lost cities of ancient Egypt, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus.

Over the last 20 years, world-renowned archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have excavated underwater discoveries in the mouth of the Nile as well as the port there, Alexandria, using the latest technologies but it has been no easy task. Back in the nineteenth century, my gggg uncle was working in the harbour of Alexandria trying to locate the ancient links with Cleopatra. He had none of the success that Goddio and his team has had.

Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, some of the finds that the team has found will re-write our views of the ancient Egyptian world and how it linked with its neighbours such as Greece, modern day Turkey and the Middle East. Many of these objects which include colossal statues to intricate gold jewellery have been brought to London for the exhibition. They will be seen alongside fascinating objects from major Egyptian museums for the first time in the UK.

Why mention this a month before the exhibition opens? Because this could be a blockbuster which means tickets may sell out quickly. Egypt has always held a sway in the minds of the British. The Tutankhamun exhibition in the 1970’s had queues around the block. When Howard carter discovered his tomb it was front page news and led to a spate of films. Look at the current interest in finding if Nefertiti’s tomb is below that of Tutankhamun and the number of times it gets mentioned on the news.

That’s why this could be the must-see of the summer.

Although the exhibition doesn’t open until May, (it runs from May 19th until November 27th) if you are a member, there is a showing of a film on the 11th of April showing how the expedition and its work. If you aren’t a member I cannot believe that some television channel somewhere is not preparing a film about it.

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