Archaeological committee to inspect burnt Geographic Society building

Nevine El-Aref , Sunday 18 Dec 2011

An archeological committee has been formed to inspect the Geographic Society building, burnt out amid clashes in downtown Cairo

Minister of State for Antiquities Mohamed Ibrahim assigned today an archaeological committee led by Mohsen Sayed, head of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities Department, to inspect the Geographic Society in downtown Cairo after the building housing it was burned amid escalating clashes between protesters and the Egyptian military.

So far, the committee has been unable to inspect the building due to the unstable security conditions on Al-Sheikh Rihan Street, where the Geographic Society building is located. When calm returns, Sayed told Ahram Online, the committee will continue with its job.

Reportedly, most of the Geographic Society's unique 200,000 books and manuscripts have been burned, as well as the original copy of “Le Description de L’Egypt” written by scientists who came with Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt in the late 18th century.

Ibrahim said the ministry would help in the restoration of the Geographic Society as well the collection of rescued books, some of which are now transferred to the National Archives and American University in Cairo libraries.

Ibrahim also said he would contact the French ambassador to Egypt to ask France for help in restoring the landmark building.

The Egyptian Geographic Society was built in August 1798 according to Napoleon Bonaparte’s order. It was put on Egypt’s antiquities list in 1995. The two-storey building housed a large collection of books and encyclopaedias, including many rare originals.

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