Egypt Sunkens' Mysteries


The origins of the exhibition are to be found in the underwater archaeological discoveries made by Franck Goddio and the IEASM Institute (The European Institute for Underwater Archaeology) in Egypt, west of the Nile Delta.


In this area that has been flooded since the 8th century after seismic and geological accidents, excavations led to the discovery of the remains of the cities of Heracleion and Canopus in Aboukir Bay, a couple of miles east of Alexandria. On the seabed there, temple foundations were brought to light along with numerous buildings, statues and liturgic items, all related to the god Osiris and the famous « Mysteries », his annual celebratory ceremony. Celebrated throughout Egypt, these rituals reproduced, revived and perpetuated the country’s founding legend of the divine triad composed of Osiris, Isis and Horus.


The results of twenty years of archaeological excavations were compared to the text found on a certain stele of Canopus from 238 BC, discovered in 1800. The engraved decree specifically mentioned the fact that this ceremony was to take place between the Canopus and Heracleion cities every year, with specific rules: it was to start at the Amun-Gereb temple in Heracleion and to end  in Canopus at the Osiris sanctuary. The discoveries made in Aboukir Bay constitute a striking illustration of this text, since they provide tangible and concrete proof of its application. This is precisely what the exhibition offers to share with the visitors: the contemplation of objects testifying of Egypt’s great initiatory ceremony as it took place in the North of Egypt, centuries ago.


curator: Franck Goddio, muséographe: Martine Thomas-Bourgneuf, scenography: Atelier Sylvain Roca & Nicolas Groult, graphism: Dépli Design Studio, lights: Gelatic


photos: Franck Goddio & Hilti Foundation, Sonia Draeger, Philippe Chancel, Christop Gerigk

  • Opening: September 2015
  • Location: Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris
  • Area: 1100 m2
  • Production: Institut du Monde Arabe, Hilti Foundation, IEASM
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