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Students from the University of Warsaw will follow in the footsteps of the first Egyptologists

18.05.2012 History&Culture
Fragment of a figure from the 1810 work Description de l'Egypte, vol. V, fig. 8. Giza plateau with half buried the Sphinx, the pyramid of Cheops in the background.

PAP © 2012 / Danowska Marta

In September, members of the Scientific Society of Ancient Egypt "KeMeT" at the University of Warsaw Łukasz Przewłocki and Ewa Biskupek will begin a scientific project aimed at finding and documenting selected archaeological sites depicted in the nineteenth century drawings and described in the reports of the first archaeologists. Comparing them with the current state can provide new information on pioneering research conducted more than 150 years ago.

At the moment, work is underway on searching, cataloguing and specifying, which monuments, primarily buildings, will be selected for detailed study.


"Figures we are taking into account originate from the first half of the nineteenth century, and their authors are the first European Egyptologists, including Jean-Francois Champollion, Karl Richard Lepsius, Ippolito Rosellini, and about 200 scientists and 160 illustrators, who participated in Napoleon’s Egypt expedition" - explained Łukasz Przewłocki. Bonaparte's expedition was the cause of the immense work Description de l'Egypte. At the time, it was the only complete scientific description of many aspects of ancient and modern Egypt issued in the first half of the nineteenth century.


"Another extensive database of topography of nineteenth-century Egypt and the remains of the ancient civilization will be the database of images made available by The Griffith Institute at the University of Oxford, which collects the first photographs taken in Egypt by travellers and archaeologists at sites" - said Przewłocki.


The main stops on the students’ route include Alexandria, Giza, Saqqara, Thebes, Dendera and Esna, all immortalized in the nineteenth-century figures.


After returning to the country, students will enter the next phase of work: comparisons and insightful descriptions of changes that have occurred over time in surroundings of the monuments and the monuments themselves.


"As you know, more than 150 years of the activity of archaeologists, travellers, residents of these areas, and above all tourists, has led to many, often unfavourable and irreversible changes. With the help of computer graphic programs we will compare figures and photographs, to present differences in a more graphic way" - added the student.


The second, equally important part of a scientific trip to Egypt will be tracing the Egypt journey of Count Michał Tyszkiewicz, known collector of antiquities.


"It was the first Polish archaeologist who led his own excavations in Egypt. In "The Journal of Travel to Nubia and Egypt (1861 - 1862)" he described places he visited and explored. The result of his work was the discovery of items that today are the pride of museum collections including the Louvre and the National Museum in Warsaw. Following in the footsteps of this researcher will allow to explore changes in the topography, which have occurred since the Count’s visit to this country" - explained Przewłocki. The project implementers have received funding for their project from the University of Warsaw Consultative Council for Students' Scientific Movement.


PAP - Science and Scholarship in Poland


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