Arab News is reporting that a building housing thousands of rare documents containing the most comprehensive collection of Egyptian history. Below is an excerpt from the news report:
CAIRO: Volunteers in white lab coats, surgical gloves and masks were standing on the back of a pickup truck along the banks of the Nile River in Cairo, rummaging through stacks of rare 200-year-old manuscripts that were little more than charcoal debris.
The volunteers, ranging from academic experts to appalled citizens, have spent the past two days trying to salvage what’s left of some 192,000 books, journals and writings, casualties of Egypt’s latest bout of violence.
Institute d’Egypte, a research center set up by Napoleon Bonaparte during France’s invasion in the late 18th century, caught fire during clashes between protesters and Egypt’s military over the weekend. It was home to a treasure trove of writings, most notably the handwritten 24-volume Description de l’Egypte, which began during the 1798-1801 French occupation.
The compilation, which includes 20 years of observations by more than 150 French scholars and scientists, was one of the most comprehensive descriptions of Egypt’s monuments, its ancient civilization and contemporary life at the time.
The Description of Egypt is likely burned beyond repair. Its home, the two-story historic institute near Tahrir Square, is now in danger of collapsing after the roof caved in.
“The burning of such a rich building means a large part of Egyptian history has ended,” the director of the institute, Mohammed Al-Sharbouni, told state television over the weekend.
It is tragic that those who set the building on fire did not realize that they were destroying an important part of their own heritage,
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary