Exhibit Review: Sunken Cities, Egypt’s Lost Worlds at the British Museum


Sunken Cities

We, of The Gatehouse, are known to have a keen interest in archaeology and history, not just that of the ‘punk eras and archaeological techniques of those times. A fine example of the latest scientific progress in the domain of recovering ancient cultures is Sunken Cities, currently running at that established home of history: the British Museum.

Sadly this will be a review without our customary photography, as photos weren’t allowed at the exhibit. That should, however, not stop anyone from visiting when in London, as it is very much worth the £16,50 adult ticket price. So if you love Egypt, Greece and/or archaeology and you find yourself in the UK’s capital and don’t mind spending that kind of money on an exhibit ticket: the Brit is where it’s at.

Sunken Cities is of tremendous interest to those that wish to find out more about the ancient Egyptian cities that were lost to the Nile waters for over thousands of years. They especially cover the city of Thonis-Heracleio and Canopis. Both port towns with large Greek settlements. Concequentially it also deals with the Greeks slowly taking over reign of Egypt by first trade and later conquest by Alexander the Great. As well as religion, both of both Egyptians and Greeks in Egypt, as well as rites, holidays and commerce back in those days.

Not only does it feature some truly amazing pieces that have been recently recovered from their watery grave, but also pieces on loan from other museums, that have never before been shown in the UK. I’m not sure whether or not those have been shown in other European museums before, but considering how exclusive this exhibit is, I’m guessing they’re over here on display for the very first time in general.

What is especially great about this exhibit, other than the historical and archaeological value and the sheer amount of amazing pieces on display, is the set up. It is well organised and never too crowded thanks to timed tickets. The displays are also very nicely done, making sure to grant optimal view of the items. Aside from this, they have adjusted all texts to people with reading difficulties with special lighting, and large print texts are available for those that need them. For free upon request. So they are really doing their best to include all visitors.

The best part, however, is that it is interesting for both those casually interested in ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures, as well as those that are already very knowledgeable on the subject(s). Even if you know nothing at all, or have devoured every book on the matter you could get your hands on, you will come out of the exhibit having found something that is both new and interesting. Which makes it, hands down, one of the best exhibits I’ve visited all year (and I’ve been to quite a few).

A small note: if you go around 3.30 PM, you will still have a few hours to soak up the exhibit, and you’ll likely be able to get in on the spot. If that’s not possible, try to get reservations sorted out online.

On an additional closing note that is important for anyone visiting this museum.
Much like many museums in London, fear of terrorist attacks is very much a thing. And the British Museum is taking their security very serious. Literally every single bag needs to be checked, so understandably it takes quite a bit of time to get inside, this is something you need to take into account when you visit. Security is also extremely strict, so if you are carrying scissors (even if they are to cut plasters), nail clippers, deodorant or even an asthma inhaler (yes, that last one happened, I’m not kidding), expect problems. They’ll let you bring in the inhaler when you point out your life may depend on it, but the other things: forget about it. So if you were thinking of popping by the Brit with your luggage in tow to leave it in the cloak room: those days are well and truly over.

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