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Submerged Antiquities

Statue of a Ptolemaic queen
© BA Antiquities Museum/C. Gerigk Christoph Gerigk

Presentation of the department

 

The Submerged Antiquities Section displays some of the artifacts discovered in the Eastern Harbor of Alexandria and at the Bay of Abukir, where once existed the cities of Thonis-Heracleion, Canopus and Menouthis. The collection encompasses beside coins, jewels and amphorae, a unique collection of statues and statue fragments which reveal the foreign influences on Egyptian art. One of the remarkable examples is a black basalt statue theoretically attributed to a Ptolemaic Queen, probably Arsinoe II.
These artifacts were brought to light, thanks to the Franck Goddio team, who works in conjunction with the Supreme Council of Antiquities. Goddio, Director of the European Institute of Underwater  Archeology (IEASM), has began the marine excavations in Alexandria since 1992.

The Submerged City Rediscovered

The dream of finding sunken antiquities under the water returns back to the beginnings of the 20th. Century, since 1910, the French naval engineer "Jondet" was imposed to make enlargements for the western harbor in Alexandria, where there were found sunken establishments which appeared to look like ancient harbor sidewalks to the west of the Pharos island. In the year 1933, chance played an important role in the discovery of the first site of sunken antiquities in Egypt, at the site of Abo-kir to the east of Alexandria; this was discovered by a pilot in the British Air forces, who reported to the prince "Omar Tusson" who was known for his passion for antiquities, and who was a member of The Royal Antiquities Association in Alexandria then, who carried out financing the process of searching which emanated the find of a head of marble belonging to Alexander The Great, which is on display now in the Graeco-Roman Museum in Alexandria.

During the sixties a professional diver who had passion for antiquities called Kamel Abo-Al Sa'adat prepared two maps for the sunken antiquities, the first was for the eastern harbor, while the second was for the bay of Abo-kir. He also cooperate along with the Egyptian navy to take some of his finds out to light at the position of the lighthouse in April and November of the year 1962 successively. While the utmost of those trials is what was made in the mid. 80s when the French Navy in cooperation with the Egyptian Antiquities Corporation, studied together the site where Napoleon's fleet had sunken and took some of its remains out to light, also the position of "The Patriot" ship was located.

By the beginning of the 90s interested expeditions came to Egypt, and they started the search, excavation and the quest for the sunken antiquities in Egypt, where the position of The Qaitbay Fortress which covers the area of 22.500 m2 is considered to be the most important among all other sites, that’s because it alone contains more than 3000 architectural piece.

The European Institute of Sunken Antiquities then swabbed entirely the site of the eastern harbor in the year 1992; this produced the exact Topographical map of the sunken antiquities in that harbor, which proved that there existed many ancient harbors within the recent eastern harbor.

The quest for the Egyptian sunken antiquities ended in the year 2005 by the French explorer "Franck Goddio", also a big collection of these antiquities was found in the year 2000 at the empty city of "Hieraklieon", which was partially discovered by Omar Tusson in the year 1934.

The European institute then re-discovered the site, but concerning the sunken fleet of Napoleon at the bay of Abo-kir, Abo-Al Sa'adat managed to locate seven locations for the sunken fleet besides the island of Nelson in the year 1966; later the French expedition "Napoleon" joined him by the command of Jacques Dumas in the year 1983, this expedition managed to bring out sunken parts of the fleet by the help of The French and The Egyptian Navy.

Egypt’s Underwater Antiquities Tour the World

The Minister of Culture agreed to launch a world tour in several European cities to showcase artifacts bearing the thoughts and feelings of ancient man, and to reveal to the world a legendary historical part of ancient Egyptian civilization.
The exhibition included 489 rare pieces from the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Antiquities Museum, Alexandria National Museum, Greco-Roman Museum, underwater antiquities warehouses and the Restoration Lab in Alexandria.
 

The exhibition visited the following cities: 

City

Country

Venue

Duration

From

To

Berlin Germany Martin-Gropius Bau 13 May 2006 4 September 2006
Paris France Grand Palais 9 December 2006 16 March 2007
Bonn Germany Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany 5 April 2007 27 January 2008
Madrid Spain Matadero De Legazpe 16 April 2008 31 December 2008
Torino Italy La Venaria Reale 7 February 2009 3 June 2009
Yokohama Japan Pacifico Yokohama 27 June 2009 23 September 2009
Philadelphia USA The Franklin Institute June 2010 January 2011
Cincinnati USA Cincinnati Museum Center February 2011 September 2011
Milwaukee USA Public Museum October 2011  April 2012
Los Angeles USA California Science Center May 2012 December 2012

 
For further information, go to the official website of the exhibition "Egypt's Sunken Treasures".

 

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