The British Museum’s Sunken Cities Exhibition

2016-08-09 11.08.24

Shannon and I have been planning to see this exhibition for ages. I’m a history geek but, specifically, the Classical period and nothing interests me more than the Cult of Isis and the melding of the Egyptian and Greek religions. If I’d managed to stay doing a Classics degree (something I’d still love to finish, when I win the lottery), I was planning to do a religion-centric dissertation looking into the spread of the Isian Mysteries and nowhere was this more key than in Ptolemaic Egypt, this is where Isis adopted the other forms of Greek deities (the Ptolemies originated with Alexander in Macedoniaa, after his death taking Egypt as their own and ruling successfully all the way down to Cleopatra VII, who was herself a devotee of Isis). Then, as the cult spread to Rome and beyond, Isis became the universal Goddess.

But back to giant sunken statues and half-price admission. Oh and £25 catalogues which I really, really wanted. Ditto the plush Bastets. I bought neither and don’t regret it.

The only downside is, to see the details of the statues, I had to use my phone camera to zoom in, getting me several tellings off from the staff despite my explaining I wasn’t taking photographs just trying to see. The staff at the outset were lovely, totally understanding. I still like to see things, especially the hieroglyphs and the intricacies of some of the pieces. It really didn’t help when Uni accidentally made me hit the flash button by pulling at me trying to find Shannon.

The big draw was, of course, artefacts pulled up from two sunken cities, covering everything from the giant statue of Hapy, god the of the Nile. There was also a gorgeous statue in the Greek style (which you don’t see very often) of a queen dressed as Isis. Oh and a gorgeous statue of the hippo-goddess Tawaret, along with similarly beautifully-preserved statues of Isis and Osiris which had me convinced they were resin replicas. The Apis Bull and the Stele of Sais … gorgeous.

Yep, total history nerdgasm.

They even had my favourite Herodotus quote.

Anyway, the exhibition had a big focus on Osiris (and Serapis, his melded avatar created specifically to make him more understandable to the Greeks), who got the entire latter half of the exhibition which was refreshing. I was really pleased with the size of the whole thing actually, it took us about an hour (plus ten minutes for the gift shop at the end). The last exhibition I went to and paid to go into was the Cleopatra one in 2001 and British Museum exhibitions are always amazing and worth paying to get into. They’re educational and interesting. It was a beautiful thing to see and I’m so, so glad we went.

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