Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds

Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds

The BP Exhibition

19 May - 27 November 2016
Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery
£16.50, Members/under 16s free

Submerged under the sea for over a thousand years, two lost cities of ancient Egypt were recently rediscovered. Their story is told for the first time in this blockbuster exhibition.

Vanished beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay at the mouth of the Nile. Named after the Greek hero Heracles, Thonis-Heracleion was one of Egypt’s most important commercial centres for trade with the Mediterranean world and, with Canopus, was a major centre for the worship of the Egyptian gods. Their amazing discovery is transforming our understanding of the deep connections between the great ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece.

Preserved and buried under the sea for over a thousand years, the stunning objects in the exhibition range from magnificent colossal statues to intricate gold jewellery. Sacred offerings and ritual objects reveal the cult of Osiris – the god of the underworld who held the promise of eternal life. They tell stories of political power and popular belief, myth and migration, gods and kings. Journey through centuries of encounters between two celebrated cultures, meeting iconic historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Hadrian and Antinous on the way.

Over the last 20 years, world-renowned archaeologist Franck Goddio and his team have excavated spectacular underwater discoveries using the latest technologies. They will be seen alongside fascinating objects from major Egyptian museums for the first time in the UK.

Discover the incredible story of the remarkable relationship between the major ancient civilisations of Egypt and Greece, unveiled in this monumental new exhibition.

Organised with the Hilti Foundation and the Institut Européen d’Archéologie Sous-Marine.  


Sicily: culture and conquest

Sicily: culture and conquest

21 April 2016 - 14 August 2016
Room 35
£10, Members/under 16s free

The largest island in the Mediterranean. The home of Mount Etna. A cultural centre of the ancient and medieval world.

Sicily has been shaped by waves of conquest and settlement by different peoples over 4,000 years. Since the 7th century BC, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans all settled or invaded the island, lured by its fertile lands and strategic location. Over time, this series of conquests forged a cultural identity unlike any other.

This exhibition tells Sicily’s fascinating stories – from the arrival of the Greeks and their encounters with the Phoenicians and other settlers, to the extraordinary period of enlightenment under Norman rule in the 11th to 13th centuries.

For much of its history, Sicily was admired and envied for its wealth, cultural patronage and architecture. In the exhibition, ancient Greek sculpture, architectural decorations from temples, churches and palaces, early coinage, stunning gold jewellery, and Norman mosaics and textiles demonstrate Sicily’s diversity, prosperity and significance over hundreds of years.

Discover an island with a cosmopolitan history and identity – a place where the unique mix of peoples gave rise to an extraordinary cultural flowering. The art and objects they produced are some of the most beautiful and important in the history of the Mediterranean.