Oxford researchers have helped to bring the remains of lost Egyptian cities to the surface from the very depths of the Mediterranean Sea. 

The treasures are from two ancient Egyptian cities, Thonis-Heracleion and Canopus, and laid on the sea-bed at the mouth of the Rive Nile for more than 1,000 years.

These archaeological discoveries are now the subject of a new six-month exhibition called 'The BP exhibition - Sunken cities: Egypt's lost worlds', which will open at the British Museum on Thursday.

The exhibition shows both cities were founded around the 7th century BC at the edge of the fertile lands of the Egyptian Delta.

Recovered statuettes, metalware and jewellery show Thonis-Heracleion was a major religious centre where cross-cultural exhange and religion flourished.

In addition, Dr Damian Robinson, director of the University of Oxford's Centre for Maritime Archaeology (OCMA), and his team are excavating a ship that appears to have been deliberately sunk in the harbour of Thonis-Heracleion.

They are also investigating a small ritual barge probably used in the religious ceremonies in the temples.

Dr Robinson said: "The significance and scale of the material from these sites is enormous and the condition of the objects is largely pristine.

"Monumental statues, fine metal-ware and gold jewellery reveal how Greece and Egypt traded and generally interacted in the late first millennium BC.

"Because ritual objects and refuse were placed into the waters of the harbour, they have been protected from the typical patterns of recycling and reuse that operate on land.

"Only now are we able to see the catastrophic destruction of areas of the site that largely led to its abandonment."

The OCMA supports Franck Goddio and his team, the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology, which is responsible for excavating spectacular finds off the coast of Egypt near Alexandria and their interpretation.