SpeakerIsmail Serageldin

InstitutionBibliotheca Alexandrina

SubjectDescription de L’Egypte

The Description de L’Egypte is arguably the largest single effort ever undertaken by one culture to study another. It was the fruit of the labors of 167 scientists brought by Napoleon Bonaparte to Egypt in 1798, who after a stay of three years, went back France and worked diligently with some 2000 draftsmen and engravers for 20 years to produce a monumental work of almost 1000 plates and some 7500 pages of text. The magnificent large format editions are works of art of unprecedented accuracy and beauty. The plates are grouped in 11 volumes of 56cm x 75 cm each, under the headings of Antiquities (5 volumes), Natural History, covering Egypt’s flora and fauna in three volumes, and the Modern State (as it existed in 1798-1800) in two volumes, and a Geographic Atlas volume. The nine volumes of text also covered Antiquities (4 volumes) the Modern State (3 volumes), Natural History (2 volumes), and an Index volume.

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina was the first institution to put the entire collection in an accessible digital DVD format in 2004, with navigation, search capabilities and other features. An on-line free access edition is under preparation.

This will be the first of the contributions of the Library of Alexandria to the colossal new World Digital Library being launched by the Library of Congress with our collaboration as well as the support of UNESCO, IFLA and other institutions and the participation of libraries from all over the world. We intend to bring other beautifully rendered collections to the World Digital Library, to make our Egyptian heritage available to the world.