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Osiris. Egypt's Sunken Mysteries

Exhibition venues

Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 8 Sept 2015 - 6 March 2016

The British Museum , London, 19 May - 27 November 2016
(in a slightly different version under the title "Sunken cities, Egypt's lost worlds")

"Osiris. Egypt's Sunken Mysteries" presents artefacts drawn largely from the last seven years of underwater excavations at the ancient cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus off the coast of Egypt by the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), directed by Franck Goddio in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities and supported by the Hilti Foundation. The selection is supplemented by 40 artefacts from museums in Cairo and Alexandria.

Together, they illustrate the “legend of Osiris”, the Egyptian god of the afterlife. Osiris, so the legend says, was killed and cut into pieces by his brother Seth. Osiris’ sister-wife Isis reassembled the pieces which led to his resurrection in order to conceive their son Horus. Osiris was therefore worshipped for bringing new life to death, including the circle of vegetation and the flooding of the Nile. The “legend of Osiris” is one of the great founding myths of ancient Egypt. It was remembered, perpetuated and renewed in the annual celebration of the “Mysteries of Osiris”, one of the great religious ceremonies of ancient Egypt. According to the Decree of Canopus, a stele of 238 B.C., in the Canopic region this ceremony culminated in an annual water procession along the canals between Thonis-Heracleion and the city of Canopus.

“Osiris. Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries” reveals some of the latest discoveries of Franck Goddio and his team from these sites. Celebrations and rituals that were carried out in the utmost secrecy of the temples of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus are presented to the visitors. They are guided through 1,100 square meters to the submerged sites of the two cities and can follow the water procession along the canals.