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Buried underwater, Ancient Egyptian artifacts rise to the surface in Paris

An exhibition of ancient Egyptian artifacts found buried underwater has opened to the public in Paris. Hari Sreenivasan reports.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    An exhibition of Egyptian artifacts discovered in ancient cities buried underwater has opened to the public in Paris.

    The exhibit at the Arab World Institute features 250 artifacts from a pair of ancient cities discovered 15 years ago.

    It took seven years of underwater excavation to retrieve the artifacts, from a 40 square mile area of the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria, Egypt.

    The objects – covered in sediment – and partially protected by the sea, date back 2,800 years.

    Like this giant tablet with hieroglyphic writing. Some objects came out of the water only last year.

    The French marine archeologist who discovered the cities believes they became submerged 1,200 years ago.

  • FRANCK GODDIO, ARCHAEOLOGIST:

    The cities were submerged because of natural calamities, earthquakes, big tides, collapsing of ground, which made it possible that sea could cover those sites.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    One of the biggest finds is the 30-foot statue of a pharaoh, which the archeologists believe, stood at the entrance to a temple now underwater.

    The ancient cities were called Thonis, Heracleion and Canopus.

    Many of the artifacts are thought to be in tribute to the ancient Egyptian God: Osiris.

  • MOHAMMED ABDELMAGUID, EGYPTIAN DEPT. FOR UNDERWATER ANTIQUITIES:

    The artifacts have aesthetic value, but at the same time, this shows us there is a continuity in Egyptian beliefs from the ancient pharaoh civilization and to Greek and Roman times. We have Osiris, who became Dionysus in Greece and then Bacchus in Roman times.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The exhibit comes at a precarious time for antiquities in the Middle east, as militants from the Islamic State, or ISIS, have destroyed artifacts across Iraq and Syria.

  • MOHAMMED ABDELMAGUID:

    We should take care of the world heritage because in reality it is not only our heritage only, it is the world's heritage.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    The Paris exhibit will run through January, and then travel to the British Museum in London.

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