Sunken Cities Exhibition: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

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Vanished beneath the waters of the Mediterranean, the lost cities of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus lay at the mouth of the Nile. Little did I know that they discovered these lost cities twenty years back and archeologists have excavated the mythical treasures from the seabed for our viewing pleasure at the British Museum. Time Team has a lot to answer for, why haven’t they told me about this exhibition – I have to hear about it second hand through Anastasia who takes me down there, (date 7) hungover. Here’s what I learnt from the exhibition.

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Soil liquefaction

The pre-warning toilet visit before full-on food poisoning arrives. Also known as the ‘Eye of the Storm‘. However in the world of archeology, soil liquefaction describes a phenomenon whereby a saturated or partially saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, usually earthquake shaking or other sudden change in stress condition, causing it to behave like a liquid. Thus the cities simply sink in to the sea.

‘It’s the same thing that is happening to Venice.‘ Anastasia whispered.

‘Holy sh*t, Venice is f*cked too? Do they know?’ 

Venice is f*cked too

Poor blighters who knew? Luckily not for another 100 years according to google sources. Plenty of time to catch some Bond locations.

The Apis Bull

The Apis Bull was heavily revered by the Egyptians and the Greeks. A black bulled calf Apis served as an intermediary between humans and an all-powerful god. Let me tell you this one they excavated was beautifully made with the smoothest of contours around the body and hump. I pointed out the Apis’s bollocks to Anastasia, ‘no wonder this thing was worshipped.’ I said. I walked away laughing to myself. Laughing alone. In my mind I had Connery from The Last Crusade saying ‘You call this archaeology?’ 

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The Rosetta Stone

Apparently this thing is like the enigma code for Egyptian hieroglyphs. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion is Demotic script, and the lowest is Ancient Greek. Because it presents essentially the same text in all three scripts  the stone provided the key to the modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs. Amazing really. I queued for what must of been ten seconds to get a mug adorned with the scribblings of the Rosetta Stone. My patience expired, the hangover needed a pillow and a Bond film to sleep to, not an over-priced souvenir.

Archaeology is not for everyone

It’s probably an idea to watch a couple of documentaries on Ancient Egyptian archeology and the contentious issues that surround the appropriate ownership of its discoveries. If you head out on a hangover and a toothache, then you’re going to be in for a tough afternoon. This guy will tell you.

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