Egypt Exploration Fund   [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1896-1897

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Archaeology, Hieroglyphic Studies, Etc.


due to the fact that he attempted not merely to catalogue them, but to publish
all in extenso, a task far beyond the combined powers of himself and his assistants.

But the article is mainly concerned with the future administration of the
Department of Antiquities in Egypt, and the writer proceeds: "Now that the
Egyptian Government is about to select a new Director-General from among the
French candidates, we cherish a hope that the choice may fall, not upon a man
capable only of dealing with the study of Egyptian inscriptions, but upon someone of
practical training, like De Morgan, and especially fitted for the work of excavation
and the architectural investigation of the monuments. . . . Had we to choose
between a learned Egyptologist or a clever architect or engineer, we should
unconditionally give the preference to the latter."

But whatever he may be, the new Director-General will have a rich field for his
labours. Not that it is well to expect from him sensational discoveries such as
those of the royal mummies at Deir el Bahri, or the gold jewellery at Dahshur,
nor that the clearing and restoration of the temples should proceed at a still
greater rate to furnish sights for the tourist, nor that the number of scenes and
inscriptions already awaiting study should be largely increased by further
excavations. The first imperative demand on the new chief is for radical reform
in the control of Egyptian excavations, the manner in which these are now
practised having become a crying scientific scandal. Professor Steindorff quotes
and emphatically endorses the words of Dr. Schweinfurth : " Important sites have
been looted by utterly uneducated persons, who afterwards disposed of their ' finds '
as mere wares in the Cairene antiquity market. In consequence of the imperfect
supervision generally given to foreign excavators, this progressive exhaustion of the
Egyptian soil has assumed the dimensions of positive treason to the cause of
science." 1 He then cites a few flagrant instances of amateur and mercenary
excavations on important sites during the last season " under the eyes and with
the consent of the Egyptian Government. ... At the request of a native consular
agent in Luxor, a near relative of his was empowered to make excavations in part
of the Theban necropolis on condition that such finds as might be forthcoming
should be divided with the Museum at Gizeh. The man iu question was altogether
uneducated, and his sole aim in the business of excavation was to procure things
for sale. ... It is obvious that in the course of such proceedings objects of no
market value, though scientifically as precious as the finest show specimens, wonld
be cast aside, and no notice be taken of remains illustrative of natural history,
while not even an attempt would be made at an accurate record of provenance. No
less barbarous is the way in which the ancient necropolis of Eshmuneu (Hermopolis
Magna)—until then almost untouched—was plundered last year by a company of
Cairene dealers, and the spoils scattered throughout the antiquity markets of the
world. The history of that necropolis none will ever know : the site is irrevocably
destroyed. These instances might easily be multiplied tenfold. . . . The permission
to excavate should be granted only to such scientific men or architects as offer
complete security for the exact observation and noting of all that is found, however
insignificant, and who accept the responsibility of making prompt and exhaustive
publication of the results of their investigations."

"It is also eminently desirable that M. de Morgan's project of cataloguing the
Egyptian antiquities and monuments still in situ should not be allowed to drop,
but that it should be carried out on a modest scale after the style of a compact,
scientific Museum-Catalogue. Thus, not only would the foundation be laid for the

1 For Dr. Schweinfurth's indictment, see Archaeological Report, 1895-6 (pp. 37-9).
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