Archives, engagement, and education
From 5th-9th June 2022, the Egypt Exploration Society delivered the first Egyptological Archives Skills School across multiple institutions in Cairo to ten Egyptian early career scholars (names below). The School covered several essential topics within archive management including: handling, cataloguing, preservation, and engagement, and culminated in an assignment working across the archives of the EES, collections in the Egyptian Museum (EMC), and the library of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE).
The School consisted of a balance between theoretical training and practical exercises and was designed by Stephanie Boonstra (EES Collections Manager) who also delivered the training assisted by Carl Graves (EES Director) and with the administrative help of Essam Nagy (EES Fieldwork and Engagement Manager).
Mostafa Tolba (DAI) discussing what elements could be found within archaeological archives
The ten scholars were given tours across archival collections in: the Centre of Documentation of Egyptian Antiquities (CEDAE) at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the Egyptian Museum, the Institut français d'archéologie orientale (Ifao), and the conservation archives of the American Research Center in Egypt.
Our partners in these institutions contributed greatly to the discussions across the week including the complications of naming conventions, referencing systems, as well as access, engagement, and copyright. We are incredibly grateful to all of these institutions and their teams for enriching the Skills School.
Mazen Essam presenting the Ifao archive referencing system to the scholars during their visit
The final assessment included the authoring of an object biography for an artefact on display in the Museum complimented by both published and archival material. The artefacts chosen had all been discovered on excavations of the EES during the last 140 years and included:
The funerary stela of Merytneith, Abydos
A small ivory statuette of Khufu, Abydos
A statue of Senwosret III, Deir el-Bahari
The Hathor shrine, Deir el-Bahari
The unfinished bust of Nefertiti, Amarna
The lintel of Hatiay, Amarna
The shrine of Panehsy, Amarna
A bronze statuette of Isis and Horus, Saqqara
Five Graeco-Roman stelae dedicated to the Buchis bull, Armant
Papyrus 136, Oxyrhynchus
(left) Noura Seada in quiet contemplation before her assigned artefact, the lintel of Hatiay discovered at Amarna by the EES in 1930-31
As well as researching information for the panel using online resources and the facilities of the ARCE library, the students were also encouraged to interview gallery visitors in the Museum to ascertain what they wished to learn from the panels created. Students were assessed based on their design, incorporation of archival resources, and how they had related their panel to the wider gallery/Museum environment.
Based on attendance and the assessment, four of the scholars have been invited to visit the Egypt Exploration Society’s archives in London during September 2022 in order to create educational resources based both on the EES archives as well as the collections on display in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian and Sudanese Archaeology at UCL.
All scholars were awarded a certificate of completion by Her Majesty’s Ambassador for Egypt, Gareth Bayley OBE, at a special reception hosted by him at the British Residence in Cairo. We were joined by representatives from all the institutional partners involved in the project.
The scholars with representatives from institutions across Cairo having been presented their certificates by the British Ambassador, Gareth Bayley, at the British Residence.
Feedback from the school indicates that all the attendees felt that their knowledge, skills, and confidence in archive management increased over the course of the week. Many have asked for further courses on specific subjects such as metadata and cataloguing which we will explore with our institutional partners in Cairo for future training.
A special networking dinner was also organised one evening thanks to a donation from our Local Society Partner, Southampton Ancient Egypt Society. Many thanks to their members for this kind gesture.
We would like to thank all those that helped to develop this Skills School. In particular: Sabah Abdelrazik and Asmaa Hassan (Egyptian Museum), Andreas Kostopoulos, Fatma Fahmy, Doha Abou Elenien, Yasmin El-Shazly, and Mary Sadek (ARCE), Cédric Larcher, Florent Gelsomino and Mazen Essam (Ifao), Mohamed Gamal Rashed (Damietta University). In particular, we would like to thank Hisham El-Leithy and his team at CEDAE for their crucial collaboration in bringing this School together – which had been in planning since 2019!
The Egyptological Archives Skills School and the forthcoming UK scholarships were made possible thanks to the generous support of the British Council, to which we owe a debt of gratitude. Thank you. Sample archival and storage materials were kindly supplied by Conservation by Design for use in the School.
We look forward to bringing you further updates from the visiting scholars during their visit in September 2022.
The ten early career scholars attending the 2022 Egyptological Archives Skills School:
Ahmed Mansour, Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Amany Abd el-Hameed, Abydos Temple Paper Archive
Marwa Mahmoud, Egyptian Museum
Mostafa Tolba, German Archaeological Institute (DAI)
Noha Mahran, Netherlands-Flemish Institute (NVIC)
Noura Seada, 6th October University
Shahira Hassan, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, CEDAE
Shaimaa Magdi Eid Youssef, Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, CEDAE
Yasser Abdelrady, Nubian Museum
Zeinab Mohamed, Grand Egyptian Museum