Egypt Exploration Fund [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1895-1896

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Archaeology, Hieroglyphic Studies, Etc.


It is stated that the Coptic ecclesiastical authorities have consented
to place their churches under the guardianship of the Committee for the
Preservation of Arab Monuments. It is indeed high time that this was
done. The flourishing state of the Coptic community has led to a vast
amount of rebuilding in which the old and picturesque has had to
make way for the modern and useful. The destruction wrought in the
Eoman fortress of Old Cairo has been most serious. Mr. Somers
Clarke called the attention of the Society of Antiquaries to this in
January last. (Proc. Soc. Ant. xvi. 58.)

The following indictment o£ the Egyptian excavator is taken from an open letter
dated Helwan, February 18th, 1895, and addressed by Dr. Schweinfurth to Dr.
Brman as editor of the Zeitschrift fur Agyptisohe Spraclie. In publishing and
endorsing these well-founded charges, Dr. Erman is careful to point out that they
are admittedly not altogether of universal application. {-32'j. Zeit. xxxiii. p. 32.)

Dr. Schweinfurth laments the rage for excavation which attempts to effect a total
clearance of Egyptian antiquities from the soil, leaving Egypt a tabula rasa to the
archasologist of fixture generations : —

" Future generations will have scientific methods and demands altogether different
from those of ours; they will attach importance to points of view undreamed of by
the elementary science of the present day ; and they will surely hold ns responsible
for a work of destruction which is resulting in the irreparable loss of material
for research, nor fail to reproach us as Vandals who went masking in the name of
science. This precipitous haste is in no way justified by any exhaustion of the
materials already at our disposal. Least of all can such a pretext be urged in Egypt
itself, where the great Museum is still without a convenient catalogue, and thousands
of objects are most inadequately labelled or destitute of any intimation whatever
as to the place and circumstances in which they were found. Owing to former
neglect the treasures of science, which are here piled together, are in many instances
rendered comparatively worthless for lack of certain knowledge as to their prove-
nance, one inquirer taking the word of another and each relying ultimately on his
own memory in the matter ; a state of things which is a veritable revival of the age
when records were kept by tradition only. There seems little prospect of improve-
ment unless a director and staff be appointed to deal exclusively with the manage-
ment of the Museum, and having nothing to do with excavations. Excavations
succeed each other so fast that the time elapsing between one so-called ' campaign '
and another is generally too short to allow of the preparation of any thorough
scientific report, the explorer being content to have deposited his newly-acquired
treasures in some place of safety, and with giving one or two short accounts of his
work in newspapers and reviews. The word ' campaign ' is indeed eminently signi-
ficant in its application to such wholesale massacre of material." . . . " Speaking
only pro domo, I have but to instance how the interests of a naturalist are trodden
under foot of the excavator, and many another scientific interest suffers equally
with mine." . . .

. . . " It is against the excessive liberality of the Museum in granting permission
to excavate that protest is now called for in the name of science in general. Of
late years this permission has been extended to peojde who are not only without
loading ...