Giant Egyptian statues go on display in Paris

Giant Egyptian statues go on display in Paris
A worker sets up a statue of an unnamed king dating from the Ptolemy era, made of pink granite and measuring 5 meters (16 feet) and weighing 5.5 tons in Paris, Friday Aug 21, 2015. The Institut du Monde Arabe (Arabic World Institute) opens on Sept. 8 2015 with its exhibition "Osiris, Egypt's Sunken Mysteries", an exhibition revealing one of the founding myths of ancient Egypt. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

Three giant Egyptian statues submerged in the Mediterranean for more than a millennium have gone on display at Paris' Arab World Institute.

The museum erected the granite monuments Friday as a preview of its exhibition "Osiris: Mysteries of Submerged Egypt," opening Sept. 8. The show features nearly 300 artifacts, most of them discovered in the underwater excavations of French marine archaeologist Frank Goddio.

Goddio oversaw the raising of statues of the Egyptian gods Osiris and Isis, and a hulking slab, known as a stele, that sat at the front of a temple. The statues are both nearly 20 feet (6 meters) tall and weigh 4-5 tons each. The stele is also 20 feet tall and weighs nearly 16 tons. The Maritime Museum of Alexandria normally houses the three artifacts.

Goddio and his team discovered the underwater ruins of the ancient cities of Thonis-Heracleion in 2000 and Canopus in 1997.

The cities sank into what is now Aboukir Bay, a part of the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Alexandria, in the 8th century following a series of cataclysmic natural disasters.

The cities remained the stuff of legend until Goddio and the European Institute of Underwater Archaeology (IEASM) uncovered them with support of the Egyptian Ministry for Antiquities and the Hilti Foundation.

Many of the artifacts going on display this fall are leaving Egypt for the first time, Goddio said. He remembered the discovery of the Osiris and Isis statues as "absolutely a superb instant."

Giant Egyptian statues go on display in Paris
Workers set up a statue of an unnamed Egyptian king dating from the Ptolemy era, made of pink granite and measuring 5 meters (16 feet) and weighing 5.5 tons in Paris, France, Friday Aug. 21, 2015. The Institut du Monde Arabe (Arabic World Institute) opens on Sept.8 2015 its exhibition "Osiris, Egypt's Sunken Mysteries", an exhibition revealing one of the founding myths of ancient Egypt. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

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