NSA GOES VIRTUAL with PETER J. SCHERTZ and “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities.”

We were excited to host Peter J. Schertz on Wednesday, 23 September, as not only our first speaker of the 2020-21 season but also the first NSA speaker to “go virtual,” due to Covid19 health concerns.

He was a willing and able test subject as we premiered our virtual platform for lectures. He offered us not only a compelling virtual lecture on the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts‘ exhibit of items recovered from forgotten, sunken cities in the Nile delta, but also engaged directly with viewers in a question and answer period following his lecture through questions emailed to the moderator and posed to him directly.

Dr. Schertz received his PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Southern California and his BA in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago.

Among his projects at the VMFA are an in-depth study of the museum’s statue of Caligula, including a digital reconstruction of the statue’s original colors, as well as the exhibition and catalogue “The Horse in Ancient Greek Art”. He has also published on the “Temple of Herod in Jerusalem” and the “Arch of Titus in Rome.”

For his NSA lecture, Dr. Schertz spoke on a VMFA exhibition, open June 2020- January 2021, “Treasures of Ancient Egypt:  Sunken Cities.” 

Stele of Thonis-Heracleion, 380 BC Thonis-Heracleion, Late Period, Dynasty 30, reign of Nectanebo I; Black granodiorite

Some twelve hundred years ago, two cities, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus sank into Egypt’s Aboukir Bay. Once vibrant centers of international trade and the sites of major religious sanctuaries, these cities lay virtually forgotten until their rediscovery in 1996 by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio. In excavating these cities, Goddio found not only evidence of the an ancient multi-cultural port city but also evidence of religious ceremonies, especially the annual celebration of the Mysteries of Osiris, the most important festival of the Egyptian year. Mr. Schertz’s talk focussed on the exhibition of Goddio’s finds at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, providing a behind the scenes look at the installation of nearly 300 objects most of them recovered from beneath the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

His program was organized by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and supported, in part, by the Paul Mellon Endowment and the Jean Stafford Camp Memorial Fund.

Photo credits, thanks to VMFA. 

an installation view, Osiris and Isis-