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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. The following pages provide a little more information about our history and images taken from the Lucy Gura Archive:

In the winter of 1873-74 the Victorian 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).

A tried of Ramesses II at Tell el-Maskhuta, the first site excavated by the Fund in 1882


The Delta and Deir el-Bahari Tell el-Amarna
The Archaeological Survey Nubia
The Graeco-Roman Branch Saqqara and Memphis
Abydos and Armant Further information

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