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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Museum Collections and Exhibitions (Moderator: museumguy)  |  Topic: Undersea Excavations near Alexandria - Reagan Library Exhibition 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Undersea Excavations near Alexandria - Reagan Library Exhibition  (Read 356 times)
PtolemAE
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« on: October 06, 2019, 07:00:37 pm »

Yesterday (Oct 5 2019) was the opening of the exhibition at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (Simi Valley, CA) of Egyptian artifacts ,mostly from the undersea excavations off of Alexandria organized by Franck Goddio.  Pretty cool with some objects not exhibited before.  There are also some objects loaned from various museums mixed in but plenty of amazing things that came up from Herakleion (aka Thonis) and Canopus, small cities near Alexandria that sank into the ocean about 800AD.  A lot of the material is from Ptolemaic and Roman periods.  Only a few coins, but they are interesting ones - small gold chryson fraction coins of Ptolemy I in terrific condition.  Some gold jewelry objects also.  Lots of statuary, some of which is huge - 20 to 30 feet tall - that were hauled up from the ocean floor some kilometers off the modern shores of Alexandria.  Temples sank into the sea along with everything else so plenty of religious devotional objects are on display, too.  Recommended and the RR presidential library has its own attractions to add to your visit including his Air Force One airplane hanging in its own separate building.  Beautiful views from a spectacular hilltop location were enhanced yesterday by the clear cloudless skies on an 85-degree sunny day.    

Topping off my own experience was getting to meet Franck Goddio and talk about coins and some mutual friends who are doing numismatic work on the thousands of coins that have come up from the excavations.  One small hoard of Ptolemaic bronzes from Herakleion has been published - but there likely be more.  Goddio had been there for a week or so supervising the installations and then left today so my spur of the moment decision to see the exhibit on opening day was fortuitous.  

I'll post some pictures when I pull them from my camera.

The exhibit will be at the RR library until April so if you're in the LA area make the short drive out to Simi and take it in.  You won't be disappointed.  They have a web site and you do need to purchase tickets but it's all reasonable and you can visit the Reagan Library and Egypt exhibits on one ticket, good for all day.

PtolemAE
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2019, 07:58:08 pm »

Sounds like great exhibit.  Thanks for sharing.  I'm still hoping they find Antony and Cleopatra's tomb
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2019, 08:30:59 pm »

Sounds like great exhibit.  Thanks for sharing.  I'm still hoping they find Antony and Cleopatra's tomb

Separate tombs, Jay.  It was at least marriage #4 for Antony. Kids probably squabbled.....


Thank you, PtolemAE, for the pointer to this exhibit.    The Alexandria explorations are fascinating.  Any insight into why it is at the Reagan Library?  Is it headed elsewhere in the future?  (Like the East Coast....)
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2019, 09:13:26 pm »

I thought Plutarch said Octavian allowed them to be buried together.  Cleopatra performed the rites for him before she died.  I'll have to dig up my source books.

Edit:
Plutarch Antony chapter 86:
 But Caesar, although vexed at the death of the woman, admired her lofty spirit; and he gave orders that her body should be buried with that of Antony in splendid and regal fashion. Her women also received honourable interment by his orders. When Cleopatra died she was forty years of age save one, had been queen for two and twenty of these, and had shared her power with Antony more than fourteen.
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« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2019, 12:04:02 am »

Here are some pix from the undersea excavation exhibit of Egyptian artifacts.  The lighting, as in many exhibits, was extremely dim (except for a few brightly lit small displays like the coins).  The camera is decent but these images are edited a bit to remove some noise and make most of them more clearly visible.  The Isis statue is huge, over life size, Roman period probably.  Headless statue of Arsinoe also life size - notice the lighting has highlights they added to make things look like you were seeing them underwater so some of the color is due to those highlights.  These are amazing artifacts dredged up over the last 25 years.  The gold coins were brightly lit and of most interest here, probably, so more pix.  They are about 12mm perhaps in size - no reference given on the displays.  The first item you see in the exhibition is the large intact stela fully engraved with hieroglyphics, placed to 'name' the town (Herakleion or Thonis) by Nectanebo and said to be identical to another found at Naukratis which differs only in the name of the city.  Lighting on that was terrible but it's clear enough to see.  The cabinet of devotional objects is filled with bronze figurines of Osiris and other deities, the largest of which is perhaps 7" tall.  The large granite sphinx was nearly invisible in the available light and it's big, about the size of a person.  The photo of Franck Goddio is taken next to an enormous Apis bull on loan from one of the museums but I concentrated on the objects, the other photos, that had come from the sunken cities.  Behind him (over his right shoulder) is the Arsinoe statue.  Too many pix for one post so some (including the gold coins) will follow in a second group.

Enjoy

PtolemAE

 
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PtolemAE
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2019, 12:10:58 am »

A few more pix from the undersea excavations near Alexandria on display at the Reagan Library.  Coins here ...  Five small gold coins which look alike (only one reverse was shown).  Ptolemy I types probably a few grams weight.  Nice condition, too.  One photo shows the grouping and four more show closer details of four of the individual coins.

PtolemAE
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2019, 12:16:54 am »

I thought Plutarch said Octavian allowed them to be buried together.  Cleopatra performed the rites for him before she died.  I'll have to dig up my source books.

Edit:
Plutarch Antony chapter 86:
 But Caesar, although vexed at the death of the woman, admired her lofty spirit; and he gave orders that her body should be buried with that of Antony in splendid and regal fashion. Her women also received honourable interment by his orders. When Cleopatra died she was forty years of age save one, had been queen for two and twenty of these, and had shared her power with Antony more than fourteen.

This area that became submerged in the 9th C AD might very well be the location of some historically important burials.  At least two entire temples are there, one of Amun-Gereb (Ammon), and many of the artifacts are from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.  We should be seeing lots more coins in coming years. 

PtolemAE
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Jay GT4
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2019, 12:55:09 pm »

Great stuff.  That headless statue is an amazing work of art.  I always marvel at how they make stone look like sheer fabric.  A masterpiece...
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2019, 04:55:15 pm »

Great stuff.  That headless statue is an amazing work of art.  I always marvel at how they make stone look like sheer fabric.  A masterpiece...

Absolutely.  Sure hope they find its head some day.  Unlike many statues, this one is 'all around' - finished in fine detail on the back as well.  Might have stood as a central figure in a temple of the cult of Arsinoe developed by Ptolemy II after her death ca 269BC.

The black stela covered with hieroglyphics is also huge and managed to survive intact, found 'face down' in the mud below the waves.  It's about 6 feet tall and about a foot thick and maybe 2 feet wide.  Must weigh a couple tons and there's not a mark on it.  Pretty amazing stuff.

Thanks for having a look here - tell your friends and I hope you get to see the exhibition.

PtolemAE
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  Museum Collections and Exhibitions (Moderator: museumguy)  |  Topic: Undersea Excavations near Alexandria - Reagan Library Exhibition « previous next »
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