Only a few countries in the world possess such long-lasting and global cultural magnetism as Egypt. Throughout the millennia, Egypt’s cultural heritage has inspired societies and rulers around the world. Its unique ancient history in particular has left influential footprints and generated passionate academic discussions, whether about ancient Egypt’s advanced societal organisation or its mesmerising aesthetics. Until today, Egypt’s impressive archaeological capital has not ceased to attract worldwide attention. International media outlets, including German television and print media, regularly cover large-scale archaeological discoveries and the openings of museums in Egypt.
Taking a closer look at Egyptian-German archaeological cooperation, we have seen impressive and important diversification over the years. Besides successful joint excavations from Southern to Northern Egypt, German and Egyptian archaeologists have explored many additional fields of cooperation, ranging from research and archiving to digitisation and preservation. The German Archaeological Institute in Cairo and other German institutes and universities actively contribute to more diverse archaeological cooperation thanks to their exchange programmes, funding, libraries and training.
German-Egyptian excavation in Elephantine, Aswan
One essential paradigm of our diversified bilateral archaeological cooperation is mutual knowledge-transfer at eye-level. Thanks to this approach, German-Egyptian projects succeed in creating compelling results that are not only accessible to the international academic community, but also to a broader Egyptian and international audience, since they are based on locally-rooted site-management and online documentation.
The joint work at the Pyramids in Dahshur serves as a concrete example of this approach. In this project, archaeologists from both countries examine burials of court officials and funerary priests, and also habitations and workplaces which were used during the construction of the Pyramids, to find out more about court officials and the inhabitants of the Pyramid towns, their living conditions, their state of health and also the organisation of life and work in the ancient royal necropolis.
Archaeological cooperation at eye-level is key for Germany. Not only does it help German-Egyptian research teams achieve more comprehensive academic results, but it also helps them benefit from each other’s skills. This mutual knowledge-transfer is all the more important in an international and interdisciplinary field of study such as archaeology. In a cooperative spirit, we will therefore continue working closely together in order to achieve stellar academic success.
The writer is ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Arab Republic of Egypt.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 February, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly