Discover the Mysteries of Osiris

From 10 February to 13 August 2017, the Museum Rietberg in Zurich shows “Osiris, Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries”, an exceptional exhibition revealing one of the founding myths of ancient Egypt by evocating what were the Mysteries of Osiris!

Discoveries made in Thonis-Heracleion: 5-metre high colossal statues and a stela. Together they weigh over 30 tons

“Osiris, Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries” is one of the highlights of the excavations directed by Franck Goddio in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in the western part of the Nile delta. In a 1300 m2 display space, some 300 objects are presented, all of which have travelled from Egypt. Most were discovered in the recent underwater excavations carried out by the IEASM, but they are augmented by some 40 splendid exhibits on loan from the museums of Cairo and Alexandria—rare objects which have never before been seen in a German-speaking country, and even some that have never been seen outside Egypt before.

The exhibition consists of three sections. The first presents the myth of Osiris and its protagonists. The second section is the most important and consists of the archaeological sites and evidence for the ritual of celebration of the mysteries of Osiris. In the third and last section, the visitor discovers how this ancient myth has evolved over time and space and how it was adapted at different sites, which explains the diversity of its representations.

A spectacular display of changing mood, colours and lighting, underwater photographs and videos, the splendour of the objects discovered by the archaeologists and divers at the bottom of the sea is reflected in the masterpieces on loan from the museums of Egypt.

 A basalt statue of the Apis Bull. It dates from the time of the Roman Emperor Hadrian

The Legend of Osiris

Osiris, son of the Earth and Sky was killed by his brother Seth, who cut his body into 14 pieces and threw them into the Nile. Isis, sister and wife of Osiris, put the body of the god back together again using her magical powers and conceived their son, Horus. Osiris then became the Lord of the Afterlife, and Horus, victorious against Seth, received Egypt as his heritage.

Statuette of Osiris, god of the afterlife

We know from the stela called of “of Canopus” (238 BC), one copy of which was discovered in 1881 at Kom el-Hisn, that in a town called Heracleion, as in most other towns of Egypt, mysteries of Osiris were celebrated in the great temple of Amun-Gereb. According to the text on the stela, in the delta the ritual culminated in a long nautical procession on the canals that took Osiris from the temple of Amun-Gereb to his sanctuary in the town of Canopus.