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Wonderful ThingsA History of Egyptology: 1: From Antiquity to 1881$
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Jason Thompson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774165993

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774165993.001.0001

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Taking Possession of Egypt for the Cause of Science

Taking Possession of Egypt for the Cause of Science

(p.223) 12 Taking Possession of Egypt for the Cause of Science
Wonderful Things

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

Auguste Mariette went to Egypt to collect Coptic manuscripts for the Bibliothèque Nationale. He failed in that mission but made one of the most sensational Egyptological discoveries of the century, the Serapeum at Saqqara. In 1858 he established Egypt's Antiquities Service and became its first director, a post that gave him an extraordinary level of authority over all antiquities in Egypt. Mariette's priorities were to protect Egypt's monuments, which he had seen damaged and lost at an alarming rate, and to clear the monuments from the accumulations of the ages. He established the Bulaq Museum, the precursor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In his energetic efforts Mariette was assisted by several able individuals at the Antiquities Service and by his talented friend, the great German Egyptologist Heinrich Brugsch who benefitted in turn by the access that Mariette provided to the monuments. Mariette wrote the scenario and designed the costumes and backdrops for Giuseppe Verdi's Aida, which premiered in Cairo in 1871.

Keywords:   Auguste Mariette, Serapeum, Antiquities Service, Bulaq Museum, Heinrich Burgsch, Giuseppe Verdi, Aida, Saqqara

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