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Boosting the skills of Egyptian Conservators to Care for Ancient Writing Treasures

More than 100 participants received hands-on training in Spring 2009, with these trainees, along with 20 new conservators, returning for a second course in the spring of 2010. Students were able to visit the conservation studios of the new National Museum and Archives where conservators shared their expertise and provided thorough information about the techniques and materials they use to restore manuscripts. Both the courses were funded by a grant to The Levantine Foundation from SFSD/Al-Ahram Beverage Company.

No people on earth should have a greater respect for books, or a greater understanding of the importance of preserving old manuscripts, than Egyptians.

However, safeguarding the ancient papers, fabrics, papyri, parchment and inks, as well as the stone and clay tablets used for early writing, has become both a craft and a science, requiring increasingly dedicated and skilled personnel.

To safeguard Egypt’s heritage, the Sawiris Foundation supports a project carried out by The Levantine Foundation to record and preserve its collection of manuscripts and related materials, in collaboration with the National Library and Archives, the Coptic Museum, the Cairo Museum, the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and Leiden University in the Netherlands. The project offers training in conservation and museology to local museum staff, to boost the number of skilled Egyptian conservators able to care for their own cultural treasures.

Theoretical and practical lessons included:

  • Cataloguing and physically describing manuscripts.
  • Monitoring the museum environment to minimize deterioration of historical materials.
  • Fundamentals of collection management.
  • Ensuring safe housing for manuscripts and archival materials.