18th and 19th centuries Egyptian archaeological documents accidently found

Nevine El-Aref , Monday 7 Mar 2016

A collection of important documents on Egyptian antiquities and archaeological sites were uncovered inside the Supreme Council of Antiquities premises in Al-Abassiya

Letter written in Arabic in 1917 (courtesy of the ministry of antiquities)

A collection of important documents from the 18th and 19th centuries were found accidently in one of the storehouses of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) in Al- Abbassiya district in Cairo, Antiquities Minister Mamdouh Eldamaty announced.

Eldamaty said that the documents consist of a number of letters that were exchanged between those who had been supervising the then Egyptian Antiquities Organisation that has since been replaced by the Ministry of Antiquities.  

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

The documents also include reports on digging operations conducted during the 18th century that were written in different languages, in addition to papers related to the Gabry and Fayyed families who were known at that time for trading in antiquities.

Among the documents was a complete file on the Egyptian Exploration Society and a law organising the work on antiquities.

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

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

A letter written in 1921 (courtesy of the ministry of antiquities)

"These are the oldest documents found in the history of the Antiquities Ministry," said Hisham El Leithy, the director general of the Egyptian Antiquities Registration Centre.

El Leithy told Ahram Online that Eldamaty gave orders to transfer these important papers to the Egyptian Antiquities Registration Centre and start an immediate restoration process.

A committee was also formed to examine and archive the documents.

Letter written in 1921 (courtesy of the ministry of antiquities)

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