The History of the Society
The foundation of the EES and its early years
The Egypt Exploration Society was founded in 1882, as the Egypt Exploration Fund in order to explore, survey, and excavate at ancient sites in Egypt and Sudan, and to publish the results of this work. Today it is one of the leading such archaeological organisations. This site provides a little more information about our activities which are as follows:
In the winter of 1873-74 a redoubtable English lady novelist and travel writer, Miss Amelia Edwards, was driven by wet weather in Europe to the sunnier and warmer climate of Egypt.
With several friends she hired a houseboat, a dahabiyeh, and they travelled up the Nile from Cairo to Abu Simbel, a journey which Miss Edwards described in her book, A Thousand Miles up the Nile, first published in 1876 and reprinted many times since.
The book became a bestseller, not only for the fascinating view it gave of nineteenth century Egypt but also for its description of the antiquities of the ancient civilisation which were, at that time, largely unexcavated and neglected.
Amelia Edwards, together with Reginald Stuart Poole of the Department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, founded the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1882 in order, as announced at the time in several daily newspapers, ‘to raise a fund for the purpose of conducting excavations in the Delta, which up to this time has been very rarely visited by travellers’.
The early emphasis on work in the Nile Delta was intended to attract sponsorship from those interested in finding evidence to support biblical stories concerned with ancient Egypt, and many of the Fund’s early donors were members of the clergy. Another important benefactor was Sir Erasmus Wilson, who had already defrayed the cost of the transport from Alexandria to London of the obelisk of Tuthmosis III (Cleopatra’s Needle).