President and founder of the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM), Franck Goddio is an archaeologist of almost 30 years standing. He instigated the underwater research and excavation in Aboukir Bay, where the two long forgotten towns of Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus were re-discovered. In Alexandria he explored, charted and excavated the famous Portus Magnus, the great eastern port, and co-founded the Centre of Maritime Archaeology at Oxford University (OCMA). The exhibition “Osiris, Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries” which he commissioned, is the direct result of his and his team’s work. It presents 293 objects, the major part contributed by his research, but complemented by some forty items on special loan from museums in Cairo and Alexandria.
Franck Goddio began his work in Egypt in 1992 in the eastern port of Alexandria, producing a precise and detailed cartography of the harbour and its environment in the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. There, too, excavation work is still ongoing, together with the study and identification of the ancient harbour infrastructure, its temples, and the buildings discovered in the great port.
In 1996, with the collaboration of the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, Franck Goddio launched a vast survey in Aboukir Bay, some 30 km northeast of Alexandria, in order to create a precise map of the submerged Canopic region. Geophysical research on such a grand scale resulted in the mapping of the precise contours of the Canopic region under the sea, as well as the location of the main archaeological deposits and the course of the river bed of the ancient, but no longer extant, western branch of the Nile. Preliminary excavations followed and led to the discovery of the town of Thonis-Heracleion, its harbour and temple 7 km out to the sea, as well as the town of Canopus, some 2.5 km off the coast.
Since then, excavations have continued and each new mission deepens our knowledge of the sites. The exhibition “Osiris, Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries” presents a selection of artefacts brought to light during these missions.
Since 1996, Franck Goddio’s archaeological work has been sponsored by the HILTI Foundation and has produced numerous scientific publications, articles in the press and audiovisual documentaries. The Oxford Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA) coordinates research projects on specific groups of material recovered in the excavations and offers scholarships to doctorate students.