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Labib HabachiThe Life and Legacy of an Egyptologist$

Jill Kamil

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9789774160615

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774160615.001.0001

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Egyptology in the Early Twentieth Century

Egyptology in the Early Twentieth Century

(p.25) Chapter 1 Egyptology in the Early Twentieth Century
Labib Habachi

Jill Kamil

American University in Cairo Press

Abstract and Keywords

The signing of the Anglo-French agreement, the unveiling of the bronze statue of François Auguste Mariette, the bestowing on an Egyptian Egyptologist, Ahmed Kamal, the title of bey on the occasion of his election to membership of the Institut d'Égypte in recognition of his work on the Egyptian Museum catalog are the three events that were celebrated in Egypt in 1904, the year Labib Habachi was born. One of the highlights of that time was when Kamal decided to approach the head of the diwan al-madaris (council of schools) and try to convince him of the need to found a school of Egyptology in Egypt. To place Ahmed Kamal's life in context as a prelude to describing the political and social environment into which Labib Habachi grew up, mention should be made of Lord Cromer's declared aim to help “free Egyptians from the shackles of oriental despotism.”

Keywords:   Anglo-French agreement, Ahmed Kamal, Labib Habachi, Egyptians, diwan al-madaris

Three events were celebrated in Egypt in 1904, the year Labib Habachi was born. The first was the signing of the Anglo-French agreement by which France, still a major creditor, surrendered its position in Egypt to the British, who forthwith controlled Egypt's military, handled its foreign relations, and set its internal policy. The second event was the unveiling of the bronze statue of François Auguste Mariette, celebrated founder and preserver of Egypt's monuments, in the garden of the new Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square. The third was the bestowing on an Egyptian Egyptologist, Ahmed Kamal, the title of bey on the occasion of his election to membership of the Institut ďÉgypte in recognition of his work on the Egyptian Museum catalog. That there was a link between the three proceedings is certain; Britain established its rule over Egypt and made it a colony in all but name, France affirmed its hold on archaeological activities, and a conciliatory gesture was made to an Egyptian Egyptologist. The word conciliatory is used advisedly because Kamal's title did not mark his acceptance into the European-dominated field of Egyptology. He had to struggle to achieve his goals and, toward the end of a long and productive career, was to endure criticism verging on slander from a French colleague that seriously blemished his reputation.

(p.26) The statue of Mariette, unveiled by Khedive Abbas Helmi II and French archaeologist Gaston Maspero, the museum's first director, shows him in casual stance with folded arms, with an upward tilt of chin and expression that bespeaks a certain haughtiness. Overconfident he might have been, but not undeserving. He did more to help Egypt preserve its ancient heritage and draw attention to the ruthless pillage of monuments than any other single scholar of his generation and he was instrumental in building up the first national collection. The grand new museum housed over a hundred rooms arranged around a vast atrium in which the large stone sculptures were placed. It was unique in that it presented the whole course of development of a single civilization from predynastic through to Roman times. Its 120,000-odd objects were set chronologically on the ground floor and by object type on the first.

Egyptology in the Early Twentieth Century

Hatshepsut's temple at Deir al-Bahari was one of the many excavated from encroaching sand by Mariette in the nineteenth century.

(p.27) Among the newly discovered objects on display was the ceremonial palette of Narmer that caused a great stir in archaeological circles. Until its discovery by Quibell in 1894, all that was known of Menes and the early kings was from vague accounts by classical writers like Herodotus, Josephus, and Africanus and from king lists drawn up by the Egyptians themselves at different periods of their history. The latter were unreliable, often fragmentary, and contradictory. The palette, decorated with reliefs in registers on both faces inscribed in the name of Narmer, was regarded as a record of unification of the ‘Two Lands,’ the definitive victory of the southern kingdom of Egypt over the Delta. Another major attraction of the museum was the horde of royal mummies excavated by Victor Loret from the tomb of Amenhotep II in the Valley of the Kings between 1897 and 1899. The pharaoh's tomb had been plundered in antiquity and no funerary furniture remained, but it was the first discovery to date in which the pharaoh was found where he had been laid to rest, in his burial chamber. His sarcophagus was festooned and garlanded with flowers and with the pharaoh lay his famous bow, the one of which he boasted that no member of his army, nor any foreign prince, could draw. That was an exciting discovery in itself, but when Loret entered one of the side chambers of the tomb, he encountered three corpses stripped of their treasures. At first he assumed that they were members of Amenhotep II's family. But when he opened the second side chamber, he found a further nine bodies and identified the royal cartouche of Ramesses IV on one of them. Then, one by one, he examined the others and each coffin bore the cartouche of another pharaoh. Loret had stumbled across a royal cache: eight mummies. Stripped and desecrated by robbers as they had been, they were brought to Cairo and placed in glass cases in the museum. Visitors flocked round the pitiable remains of some of Egypt's greatest kings, raising the question of whether it is appropriate to degrade the dignity of the country's ancient leaders.

Although the vast basement of the museum was designed to house items from excavations being carried out around the country, so many objects of real artistic worth flowed into the museum that the displays in the main halls had to be changed time and again to accommodate them.

(p.28) The year that the museum opened, for example, French archaeologist Georges Legrain, the director of works for the Antiquities Service at Karnak, unearthed from a cache in front of the seventh pylon 779 stone statues and no fewer than seventeen thousand bronzes apart from other miscellaneous objects. It was a discovery that made it entirely possible to credit with truth the hitherto seemingly exaggerated hieroglyphic text on the great Harris papyrus of Ramesses III, that the temple of Karnak possessed 5,164 divine images and 86,486 statues.

The discovery of the intact tomb of Yuya and Thuya a year later, in 1905, set off another flurry of excitement. Wealthy American businessman Theodore Davis, who financed excavations on the Theban necropolis, had unearthed the burial place of the mother and father of Amenhotep III's favorite wife, Queen Tiye. Their wonderfully preserved mummies had been laid in magnificent gilded outer coffins, the innermost coffin made of wood covered with gilt gesso. Among the funerary furniture were Yuya's gilded chariot, canopic chests, chairs, beds, and personal possessions, including a wig and wig-basket, sandals, and a mirror. Such objects could hardly be consigned to the basement, so a display area was cleared on the second floor.

After his election as a member of the Institut ďÉgypte, Ahmed Kamal joined the Antiquities Service's archaeological missions at Deir al-Bersha, Gabal al-Tair, Tihna, Atfih, and Asyut in Middle Egypt, where he gained experience in field archaeology. He subsequently excavated in the Delta and in Upper Egypt, conscientiously publishing regular reports on his work. Kamal found it humiliating that the archaeological missions were directed by foreigners who were digging up objects in his country that related to his own heritage but not publishing their findings in his native language. How could Egyptians take an interest in their ancient culture if there were no books to enlighten them, he reasoned. Khedive Ismail had established the council of schools, which later became the ministry of education, and a teachers' training college for land surveying, accountancy, and other disciplines, but nothing to encourage an interest in the Egyptian heritage. Kamil saw an urgent need for foreign language publications in Egyptology to be published into Arabic and he set himself (p.29) the task. His colleague Ahmed Naguib translated Brugsch's book on hieroglyphics and published (also in Arabic) a history of Egypt based on an account of a tour of Upper Egypt.

Resourceful and practical, Kamal decided to approach the head of the diwan al-madaris (council of schools) and try to convince him of theneed to found a school of Egyptology in Egypt. The response was more positive than he had hoped. He was advised to refer to Ali Mubarak, the minister of education, and lost no time in doing so. Kamal presented his credentials, assured the minister that he himself could direct a modest school at minimal cost, and mentioned that qualified students could then be appointed as inspectors at archaeological sites. Not only would they gain practical experience in archaeology, but they also would be able to observe what foreign missions were up to. The response once again was favorable and Mubarak instructed Maspero to allocate LE500 to open a small boarding school for five selected students, with Kamal as director. Kamal himself taught hieroglyphics, French, and history. Other Egyptians gave classes in Arabic, arithmetic, and geography.

Word got around and within two months ten additional non-boarding students enrolled in the school. Among them were Kamal's son Hassan, Shafiq Ghorbal, Selim Hassan, Mahmoud Hamza, and Sami Gabra. On graduation, they were appointed as inspectors. But if Kamal harbored any hope that his people would at last have an entry to the discipline, he was quickly disillusioned. Whether from profound mistrust, or more likely a vein of prejudice that ran through western culture, Maspero informed Kamal that salaries for the newly appointed inspectors would come from funds earlier earmarked to run the school, which would forthwith be closed.

Ahmed Kamal's teaching career had no sooner started than he found himself out of a job. Only when Eugène Grébaut, director of the French archaeological mission in Cairo, suggested to Maspero that Kamal would make a suitable escort for visiting tourists to the Bulaq museum was he given the position of guide. While this may be the aspiration of many of today's young Egyptologists, who see it as a more financially rewarding profession than an appointment as a field inspector in the Supreme (p.30) Council of Antiquities, for Kamal, a member of the Institut ďÉgypte, it was an insult to his professionalism. To assuage his frustration, he worked more earnestly on his pet project, the Grand Dictionnaire Hiéroglyphique-Arabe.

And so the lions of Egyptology, who were Westerners all, remained in command. Inspired by the wealth and richness of the ancient civilization, they conducted excavations according to the standards of the day. Petrie's work on the Menenptah stele, which was found in Karnak in 1896, made direct mention of Israel, and raised curiosity as to possible evidence in Egypt of the Biblical account of the Exodus. This inspired Petrie to write a popular book to illustrate the general historical setting of the narratives of the Old and New Testaments in the light of his discoveries. His book, Egypt and Israel which was later updated, was subject to much criticism by experts but nonetheless so popular that subsequent editions were published through to 1931 (Petrie, 1910). France's Pierre Montet set his sights on Tanis (San al-Hagar) in the northeastern Delta, which was held to be the plain of the biblical bond city of Zoan (Montet, 1933). Swiss Egyptologist and biblical scholar Édouard Naville conducted a mission at Tell al-Maskhuta, northwest of Suez, thought to be the site of the “treasure-cities Pithom and Raamses” built by the Israelites for Pharaoh, according to chapter 1 of Exodus. He worked on the south bank of a new sweet-water canal at Wadi Tumilat near Ismailia believed to be the biblical “land of Goshen” (Naville 1885).

To these scholars the ancient past bore no resemblance to the Egypt in which they worked. The once-great civilization of the pharaohs could not reasonably be attributed to the forefathers of the present Arabic-speaking population, whom they regarded as not enlightened enough to take care of their own monuments. And so, with blinkers firmly in place, they plotted ancient history with a western bias. Cultural contact was interpreted as conquest. The discovery of predynastic Lower Egyptian-type pottery in Upper Egypt was explained as the subduing of Upper Egypt by tribes of Lower Egypt. When archaeologists found that the Horus clan, who traditionally lived in the Delta, had settled as far south as Edfu, the theory gelled. Such items as an ivory knife handle excavated (p.31) from Hierakleopolis in Middle Egypt revealed a style of art unfamiliar to Egypt, so when cylinder seals of undoubted Mesopotamian origin also came to light and it was observed that the recessed paneling of the first monumental architecture showed similarities to that of Mesopotamia, the idea of a ‘dynastic race’ (the builders of the royal tombs) firmly took root. Powerful invaders obviously conquered and ruled over the native peoples (the owners of the small tombs arranged around the main tomb). A myth was launched. Writings like Maspero's The Dawn of Civilization: Egypt and Chaldea and James Breasted's classic, A History of Egypt, reflectedtheir bias. In attributing the beginning of dynastic history to conquest, these Egyptologists presented a distorted picture of thousands of years of cultural development as the dwellers of the Nile valley gradually moved from primitive society toward what we call civilization. Half a century was to pass before scholars revised their notion of a dynastic race, only to move, temporarily, in favor of an Afrocentric outlook.

Continuing the rivalry of the previous half-century, British and French scholars were at odds with one another and passed judgment on each other's methods of excavation. A serious confrontation came when the British School of Archaeology in Egypt (an outgrowth of Petrie's Egyptian Research Account) decided in 1905 to embark on an archaeological survey of Egypt, with the aim, quoted from an extract of a letter written by Amelia Edwards to The Times of October 15, 1890, “to map, plan, photograph, and copy all the most important sites, sculptures, paintings, and inscriptions yet extant, so as to preserve at least a faithful record of those fast-perishing monuments.” The mission comprised Petrie, Egyptologist and botanist Percy Newberry, and George Fraser, a British civil engineer. They decided to begin the systematic exploration and lay the foundations of a proper archaeological method. The pilot projects were planned in Middle Egypt, including the area between Minia and Asyut, with the tombs of Beni Hassan, al-Barsha, and Tell al-'Amarna on the east bank of the Nile and Meidum on the west. Application for the concession was made to the Antiquities Service as required by law, and Eugène Grébaut (who temporarily replaced Maspero) gave the go-ahead to clear and copy the tomb decorations and (p.32)

Egyptology in the Early Twentieth Century

A view of the broken flow of the Nile through granite outcrops in the cataract region south of Aswan, at the turn of the twentieth century before construction of the original Aswan Dam between 1898 and 1902.

inscriptions, stating that the official permit would follow. When it eventually arrived, however, it was found to contain new regulations, tabled but not yet ratified by khedival decree.

According to these regulations, everything found during excavations belonged to the state, but, in view of the expenses incurred by the excavator, a part of the finds would be allotted to his mission. The excavator and the Antiquities Service (acting on behalf of the Egyptian government) would divide the objects into equal parts by agreement and then draw lots. The government would subsequently have the right to buy back from the excavator any object further desired for the Egyptian Museum at an agreed price (Drower, 1985: 196). Petrie was infuriated, especially by a clause referring to the division only after the selection of unique pieces for the national collection. As far as he was concerned, everything found in Egypt was unique. Quick to take offence, he decided to cut his season short and return to England. Out went letters addressed to influential aristocrats in England, and Lord Cromer in Cairo was warned that Petrie was preparing to “raise a storm” with the British government. Afraid this might reflect unfavorably on him and not wishing to (p.33) be accused of withholding support from British archaeologists, Cromer called for high-level meetings between Egyptian ministers and scholars and European financiers. A compromise formula was worked out.

It was proposed that objects sans pareil (without equal, or unique) would be chosen for the national collection and that the excavator was guaranteed half of whatever remained, provided—and this was an added clause—that the result of the work was published within two years. This last stipulation was made at the insistence of Petrie, who wanted time to record every object before handing it over to the Antiquities Service. It proved to have major consequences because any dispute went for arbitration, not to the Antiquities Service under French control but to the ministry of public works under British control. Moreover, the government reserved the right to approve the direction of all field projects of foreign missions, including all members of their staff. Any infringement would lead to cancellation of the archaeological concession.

Petrie refused, however, to accept the method on the division of objects excavated during archaeological missions. Cromer's next move, doubtless at the British archaeologist's instigation, was to appoint two inspectors, one British and one German, to handle all matters relating to antiquities. This was met with an outcry from the French archaeological community. Time and again the interests of the British and French scientific communities ran at odds. At Tell al-‘Amarna, for instance, a large hall with a beautiful painted pavement (which Petrie regarded as the most important discovery in Middle Egypt since the statues of Prince Rahotep and Nofert were unearthed by Mariette at Meidum) was left in the searing sun. When it was cleared of sand, he immediately wrote to the ministry of works asking that it pay the cost of having the masterpiece roofed over for protection. Petrie's letter was reputedly passed to Grébaut, who took no action. And so the pavement, sketched with a border of lotus flowers alternating with food offerings and a series of delightful scenes in naturalistic style of flying birds, ducks, and calves romping among reeds and lotus blossoms, was lost.

(p.34) In order to place Ahmed Kamal's life in context as a prelude to describing the political and social environment into which Labib Habachi grew up, mention should be made of Lord Cromer's declared aim to help “free Egyptians from the shackles of oriental despotism.” To this end, he had convinced his Home Office of the need for British-inspired reforms. Soon enough, British advisers were placed in various government ministries. English became the official language of the administration, and Cromer encouraged the establishment of British missionary schools. His disdain for the Egyptian nationalist movement was reflected in his refusal to come to terms with Mustafa Kamil (1874–1908). A charismatic figure and the driving force of national identity who called for “Egypt for Egyptians,” Mustafa Kamil had great skills as an orator and publicist and he and his clique of intellectuals strongly resented their exclusion from a fair share of control over their country's affairs. Kamil criticized missionary schools that discouraged the teaching of Arabic, and which were foreign in language, curricula, and traditions. He advocated establishing more state schools and pressed for the opening of an Egyptian university, the very idea of which was heartily rejected by Cromer. Kamil's mindset was fixed on nationhood and on independence, and he made a call, through his writings and speeches, for a united stand with the Ottoman caliphate to face “foreign conspiracies.” He reasoned that since the British could not be forced out of the country, their unnecessary presence should be met with peaceful resistance. He arranged strikes and demonstrations.

An event occurred in 1906 that did much to advance the nationalist cause. In what became known as the Denshawai incident, a number of Egyptian peasants were sentenced to death, penal servitude, and public flogging under the charge of killing a British officer during an officers’ group shooting trip in the Delta. The event spurred Mustafa Kamil to expose the scandalous nature of the incident. He demanded the evacuation of the occupation forces, stressed the importance of putting an end to British intervention in local affairs, especially in matters of education, and insisted on the employment of Egyptians in the government. Supported by the khedive, he founded al-Liwa (‘The Banner’), a newspaper designed to spread political awareness among the people. Kamil (p.35) called for political and social reform and the paper gained wide circulation and eventually came out in French and English. It gave him an open platform to preach support for the Ottoman sultan and opposition to the British presence in Egypt. Kamil's newspaper closed with the premature death of its founder a year later—but not before a second group of nationalists had come to the forefront.

Lutfi el-Sayyid was the son of a prosperous village headman, or 'umda. His formal education was strictly Egyptian: a traditional village kuttab (Quranic school) followed by a primary school in Mansoura andthe Khedival Secondary School in Cairo. He subsequently entered the school of law, and after graduation was appointed to the legal department of the government. During his travels to various provinces in a professional capacity, el-Sayyid became re-acquainted with rural life and its problems. He launched (and personally financed) the al-Jarida newspaper, a mouthpiece for the Umma, or People's Party. Regarded as the first modern political party in Egypt, the Umma promoted secular liberal ideas. Lutfi el-Sayyid held that Egypt would remain forever backward and unable to manage its own affairs until it acquired modern education. He pointed out that the French had held sway over Muhammad Ali and that the British wanted to produce clerks not thinkers, and he attempted to impress upon the country the need to lay down rules for a society based on a system of values and worthy principles. He attributed the people's despondency to a system that did nothing to develop the national character. In al-Jarida, he pointed out that powerful nations did not relinquish their hold on a country until the local population proved that it was responsible, and he wrote articles to the effect that education and active participation in community life were prerequisites for political freedom. He strongly supported Qasim Amin, a lawyer and writer on Islamic modernism, in his aspiration to emancipate women and bring them into the mainstream of society, and he encouraged him and other leading figures to contribute articles to the newspaper.

In 1908, a group of nationalists launched a fundraising committee to found a university. Mustafa Kamil, Mohammed Farid (a lawyer who backed him on his nationalist platform), Lutfi el-Sayyid, Saad Zaghloul (p.36) (who was minister of education under Cromer from 1906), Qasim Amin, and Muhammad Abduh (one of the most important religious figures of the period, who insisted that there need be no real conflict between Islam and the West) managed to collect the then substantial sum of some le23,000. They easily won the support of the khedive, and al-Gami'a al-Misriya, the Egyptian University, was launched at the end of that year. Itwas a private secular institution initially housed in the rented first floor of the Gianaclis mansion near the British Embassy in Garden City. The curriculum included literature, history, and philosophy. Although Lutfi el-Sayyid and Ahmed Kamal gave courses (Kamal lectured twice a week on ancient history and also conducted field trips), the university started off largely under the guidance of foreign professors. The training of qualified Egyptians being an urgent necessity, carefully selected students were sent on scholarships to England, France, Germany, and Italy. When they returned, doctorates in hand, they were supposed to take their places as university professors and slowly to replace foreigners. Unfortunately, some dropped out and others chose not to return to their homeland, and the transition was slower than the founders hoped.

At the Second International Congress of Classical Archaeology in Cairo in 1909, Egyptian participation was pitifully low. Some cabinet ministers, including Saad Zaghloul, were members of the organizing committee, and Gaston Maspero headed the executive committee, which comprised representatives of the Antiquities Service, IFAO, the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, and the Archaeological Society of Alexandria. A mere twenty-one of nearly one thousand participants from sixteen European countries were Egyptian, and only one paper by an Egyptian was presented; it was not a scholarly work but instead addressed the affinity between Coptic art and pharaonic imagery.

When an archaeological school opened in Athens that year, Ahmed Kamal saw a chance to press for the opening of such a specialized institution in Egypt. It was not enough to give a few courses on ancient history at university level. Egyptians needed more specialized studies and an opportunity to be trained in archaeological techniques. He began to echo Mustafa Kamil's call for independence, “Egypt for the (p.37) Egyptians,” with his own “Egyptology for Egyptians.” This time he made a direct appeal to Saad Zaghloul, and the Higher Training College was founded in 1910. The first class graduated in 1912. Unhappily, what should have been a beginning, the opening up of a road to professionalism, proved to be a cul-de-sac. Maspero considered the graduates unqualified to join the Antiquities Service because they were not affiliated with an academic institution and because they lacked the necessary linguistic skills. The fact that many western archaeologists, including Flinders Petrie, were not philologists concerned him not at all. Maspero was not about to allow Egyptians into the profession. Thoroughly discouraged, the graduates had to make other choices. Ahmed Kamal's son, Hassan, went to Oxford and ended up in medicine. Shafiq Ghorbal became a well-known and respected modern historian. Selim Hassan, Mahmoud Hamza, and Sami Gabra were only able to pursue their studies many years later because, like Kamal's first small school of Egyptology in Bulaq, the Higher Training College was destined for a short life. It closed with the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the students fell back on secondary school teaching.

Kamal, sixty-three years old, decided to abandon his uphill battle against seemingly impossible odds and devote his time to research. His interest in the relationship of ancient Egyptian to Semitic languages, particularly Arabic, had never wavered. He was well on the way to completing the sixteenth volume of a planned twenty-volume Grand Dictionnaire and decided to make a preliminary report on his progressprior to his official retirement. Entitled Le Procédé Graphique Chez les Anciens Égyptiens: ľOrigine du Mot Égypte, it appeared in the Bulletin de ľInstitut Égyptien (Kamal, 1916). Much to Kamal's chagrin, GeorgesDaressy, French Egyptologist and newly elected secretary-general of the Institut ďÉgypte in 1913, challenged his intellectual competence in Egyptian philology. Daressy, in an article entitled Les Noms de ľÉgypte, accused Kamal of neglecting to take into account the historical context of some words and called him incompetent. He asserted that Kamal had made a number of assertions “which cannot be accepted by Egyptologists” because they contained “grave philological mistakes.” He (p.38) provided a long list of what he considered errors, concluding, “Ahmed Bey Kamal's hypothesis has no foundation in truth” (Kamal, 1916). Professional jealousy is not extraordinary. But why Daressy, who had worked with Kamal in the Antiquities Service under Maspero and who shared clearance operations of archaeological sites in Middle Egypt, deliberately set out to ruin the reputation of the unsung pioneer of Egyptian Egyptology is unclear. Kamal was older than Daressy and had, in fact, made several bids for promotion over the Frenchman based on his age (promotion by seniority being general bureaucratic practice in Egypt), his productivity, and his knowledge of Arabic. But he had been unsuccessful, so Daressy had nothing to fear.

The accusation must have been distressing to the meticulous Egyptian scholar, who had undertaken the project when still a student of Heinrich Brugsch and had single-mindedly pursued his objective. Taha Hussein, one of modern Egypt's greatest writers and thinkers, had observed that Egypt's cultural heritage was as much Greek and Roman as Arab, and Kamal had carried the concept a step further—his dictionary provided Egyptian hieroglyphics with Arabic and French equivalents. He traced a large number of ancient Egyptian words that could be related to Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac. Confident in his work, Kamal fought to regain his reputation, verbally on the floor of the institute and in print in the bulletin.

In an article entitled Réponse à la Critique de M. Daressy, Kamal demonstrated that Daressy's efforts to illustrate that there was no connection between ancient Egyptian and Arabic, in which the letter ‘p’ did not exist, failed to convince him that Egyptian was not the mother language of Arabic through Hebrew. Kamal provided a sound and convincing defense in which he offered page after page of illustrations with appropriate references (Kamal, 1917). But the piece did not achieve its objective. It did not exonerate him from the “errors in judgment” claimed by Daressy, who managed to point out one incontestable mistake: Kamal claimed that the Greek Aigyptos, from which ‘Egypt’ derives, was the name of the Upper Egyptian town of Coptos, whereas it is in fact the name of a monument at Memphis.

(p.39) This error notwithstanding, it was hardly reason for insult verging on slander. Today's scholars work in a multidisciplinary environment and constructively criticize one another's work, but this was not the professional environment in Kamal's day. When a French scholar questioned the competence of an Egyptian, the Egyptian did not have a leg to stand on. Kamal's life's work was discredited, and its potential contribution to scholarship cannot be evaluated today because the manuscript has never been found. As for his twenty-nine contributions to the ASAE, the official publication of the Antiquities Service, they were overlooked by the compilers of the first edition of Who Was Who in Egyptology, published in 1951. This work does not contain Kamal's name, although, ironically, the names of many desecrators of Egyptian monuments and dealers in antiquities are listed, including Abderrussel (Abdel Rassul), the head of an Arab family of dealers in antiquities in Upper Egypt; Albert Eid, another trader who had a shop in Khan al-Khalili; and Fouad Selim Matouk, a Syrian-Lebanese collector whose family emigrated to Egypt when he was a child and who became a successful dealer in Egyptian antiquities until Nasser's revolution, when his business interests were nationalized. As for Ahmed Kamal, the man who blazed a trail for his compatriots, he was compelled to bear the ungenerous consequences of his class and ethnicity. The year before he died in 1923, French officials made a mollifying gesture in inviting him to attend the centennial celebrations in France in honor of Champollion's decipherment of hieroglyphics. (p.40)