Thursday,14 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1287, (17 - 23 March 2016)
Thursday,14 December, 2017
Issue 1287, (17 - 23 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Important documents found

A cache of important Egyptian heritage documents has been discovered in the Cairo district of Abbasiya

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Al-Ahram Weekly

A collection of important documents on Egyptian antiquities and archaeological sites has been accidently uncovered inside the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) premises in the Cairo district of Abbasiya.

The collection, dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, was found accidently in one of the storehouses of the SCA during an inventory of documents kept by Reda Soliman, head of the Documentation Department, who has now reached retirement age.

Minister of Antiquities Mamdouh Eldamaty said the documents consisted of a number of letters exchanged between those supervising the then Egyptian Antiquities Organisation, which has since been replaced by the Ministry of Antiquities.

Some of the letters were between Egyptologists such as Gaston Maspero, Jacques de Morgan and Pierre Lacau, and archeologists who were excavating in Egypt at that time, among them British Egyptologist Howard Carter and French archeologist Philippe Legrand.

The documents also include reports on digging operations conducted during the 18th century written in various languages, in addition to papers related to the Gabry and Fayyed families, who were known for trading in antiquities. Among the documents is a complete file on the Egyptian Exploration Society and the law regulating work on antiquities.

Eldamaty said that a file on the work of the French Institute for Oriental Studies was also found. It includes documents on some of the sites explored by a mission from the French Institute such as Tanis, Matariya in Heliopolis and Karnak Temple in Luxor.

Old maps of the Theban necropolis in Luxor in 1921 and of the Eastern Desert in 1904 were also found.

“These are the oldest documents found in the history of the Antiquities Ministry,” said Hisham Al-Leithy, director of the Egyptian Antiquities Registration Centre.

He told Al-Ahram Weekly that the minister had asked for the papers to be transferred to the centre in Zamalek in order to start the restoration process. The documents will be studied and transcribed and their contents published, he said, adding that in a committee has been formed to examine and archive the documents.

Al-Leithy said that among the documents are items relating to a collection of Greek papyri found in Fayoum, as well as laws relating to antiquities.

A letter written by Maspero when he was head of the Service de l’antiquités in the 19th century asks the Ottoman Bank in Paris to send him 2,500 French francs to continue his excavations in Egypt.

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