Tuesday, September 8, 2015

SEE TREASURES ANTINOUS MAY HAVE SEEN
AT EXHIBITION OPENING TODAY IN PARIS



YOU can see some fabulous Egyptian monuments and treasures which Antinous may have seen ... but which were lost at the bottom of the sea for centuries ... thanks to a spectacular new exhibition which opens today in Paris.

You have all heard of Franck Goddio, the French marine archeologist who made headlines in the 1990s with his discovery in the Bay of Alexandria of ruins and artefacts which appear to have come from royal palaces, temples and perhaps even the Pharos lighthouse.

It is intriguing to think that Antinous may have gazed on those treasures when he and Hadrian visited Egypt in 130 AD.

Since first discovering the Alexandria treasures, Monsieur Goddio has gone on to trawl the waters a few kilometres east of Alexandria in hopes of discovering the fabled "Lost Cities" of Canopus and HERAKLEION (Heracleion), which he succeeded in finding in 2000.

Goddio's exhibition of "Egypt's Sunken Treasures" has traveled the world.

Now, Goddio is back with even more artifacts retrieved from the bottom of the sea … in a new exhibition entitled OSIRIS, MYSTÈRES ENGLOUTIS D'EGYPTE (Osiris Sunken Mysteries of Egypt) at the ARAB WORLD INSTITUTE in Paris.

The exhibition opens 8 September and runs through 31 January 2016 .

It offers the first public viewing of newly discovered Canopus/Herakleion treasures since the two cities vanished below the waves in a series of floods and earthquakes, finally disappearing completely in the late 7th Century AD.

By that time, Egyptian priests had retreated to Canopus/Herakleion and advancing Muslims were sweeping across the land. Thus the exhibition offers a sort of time capsule of the waning days of paganism when the "barbarians" literally stood at the gates.

There are many statues, mostly fragmentary ones minus heads and limbs. 

But by far the most impressive statues are three virtually intact monumental figures of Isis, Amun and the Nile inundation deity Hapi which stand 5.5 meters (nearly 20 feet) tall.

The figure on the right of Hapi is particularly remarkable because it is the world's only large and intact statue of this hermaphrodite deity.

Two modern-day priests of Antinous saw this statue of Hapi in all its magnificence at an exhibition in Germany in 2007 where the two priests placed flowers at the base of the statue and said prayers. 

Hapi, with narrow male hips and strong thighs, but with pendulous female breasts, with long Isis-like hair, but with a chinbeard and with a tall headdress of lotus and papyrus plants on his/her head, holds forth a sacrificial platter.

Presumably, the ancient priests would heap foodstuffs onto that platter on a daily basis, or at least on special feast days ... just as the two modern-day priests did before the statue at the exhibition in Germany.

When Antinous and Hadrian were there, the Nile had failed to flood sufficiently in the summer of the year 130 and there were great concerns that Egypt, the "bread basket" of the Roman empire, would not be able to supply enough food for the coming season.

That makes this particular statue of Hapi even more significant. Throughout Egypt, throughout the empire, all eyes were on Hadrian to intercede with Hapi to avert famine and hunger-induced rioting.

These three statues flanked the portals of the main temple in Herakleion and Hadrian and Antinous must have seen this magnificent statue of the Nile flood deity Hapi ... the first miracle attributed to Antinous after his deification only a few months later was the end of the drought with the help of Hapi.

Was there a link between the looming flood disaster and Hadrian's flagging powers? As Lambert writes: "The link, if any, was in Antinous' mind."

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