The American Research Center in Eygpt

Publications: Books

Publications: Books


Over the last thirty years, ARCE has published more than forty catalogues, conference proceedings, bibliographies, anthologies, excavation reports, and critical editions. The publications attest to the range of scholarship undertaken by scholars and institutions in Egypt under ARCE's auspices, and to the wealth of the nation's artistic, architectural, scientific, literary, and religious culture.

During the past twenty years, ARCE has undertaken an extraordinary mission to preserve the cultural heritage of Egypt. With generous grants from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), more that sixty conservation projects have been completed, spanning many time periods and geographic regions within Egypt. Documentation and publication of these valuable projects are an ongoing priority.

In 2002 Yale University Press produced the first of these publications. Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea by Elizabeth Bolman, documents and studies the extraordinary Coptic art revealed during conservation activity at the monastery. A follow-on volume, The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit at the Monastery of St. Paul in Egypt by William Lyster continues the scholarly exploration of the early Christian monastic community and the artwork it produced. This book was released in 2008 by Yale University Press. A much anticipated new volume about the extensive conservation work on the spectacular painted interior of the church at the Red Monastery near Sohag is in the production stage at Yale University Press. The Red Monastery Church: Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt, edited by Elizabeth S. Bolman will be published in 2016.

For those readers interested in a comprehensive overview of the first ten years (1995-2005) of ARCE conservation projects within one volume, ARCE has published Preserving Egypt's Cultural Heritage, edited by Randi Danforth. Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage is a visually rich and scholarly retrospective volume recording the wide variety of projects undertaken, includ­ing the conservation and documentation of im­portant monuments and works of art throughout Egypt and the training and equipping of Egyptian personnel to sustain preservation efforts into the future. These projects, funded through a grant from USAID, included work on prehistoric sites in the Sinai, an Early Dynastic Royal funerary enclosure, exquisite Greco-Roman mosaics in Alexandria, brilliantly colorful Coptic wall paintings in the world’s earliest Christian monasteries, splendid Islamic buildings in Historic Cairo, and the train­ing of a new generation of Egyptian archaeologists.    Purchase the book>>



The Red Monastery Church:Beauty and Asceticism in Upper Egypt; Edited by Elizabeth S. Bolman

The Red Monastery church is the most important extant early Christian monument in Egypt’s Nile Valley, and one of the most significant of its period in the Mediterranean region. A decade-long ARCE/USAID conservation project has revealed some of the best surviving and most remarkable early Byzantine paintings known to date. The church was painted four times during the 5th and 6th centuries, and significant portions of each iconographic program are preserved. Extensive painted ornament also covers the church’s elaborate architectural sculpture, echoing the aesthetics found at San Vitale in Ravenna and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

Distinguished contributors from a wide range of disciplines, including art and architectural history, ancient religion, history, and conservation, discuss the church’s importance. Topics include late antique aesthetics, early monastic concepts of beauty and ascetic identity, and connections between the center and the periphery in the early Byzantine world. Beautifully illustrated with more than 300 images, this landmark publication introduces the remarkable history and magnificence of the church and its art to the public for the first time.

Elizabeth S. Bolman is professor of art history at the Tyler School of Art, Temple University. 

Available June 28, 2016


Art of Empire: The Roman Frescoes and Imperial Cult Chamber in Luxor Temple is the culmination of a landmark ARCE conservation project to preserve an often overlooked treasure within Luxor Temple. This volume brings together scholars across disciplines for a comprehensive look at the Roman frescoes in Luxor Temple and their architectural, archaeological, and historical contexts. Over 150 stunning illustrations present the paintings for the first time in their newly conserved state, along with a selection of nineteenth century documentary watercolors. This remarkable publication illustrates how physical context, iconography, and style were used to convey ideology throughout Rome’s provinces.

Edited by Michael Jones and Susanna McFadden.

Available from Yale University Press (October 2015)



The American University in Cairo (AUC) Press' ARCE Conservation Series presents other dramatic ARCE conservation activities. The series began with The Monuments of Historic Cairo by Nicholas Warner published in 2005. Volume 2, Quseir: An Ottoman and Napoleonic Fortress on the Red Sea Coast of Egypt by Charles Le Quesne, and Volume 3, Villa of the Birds: the Excavation and Preservation of the Kom al-Dikka Mosaics by Wojciech Kolataj, Grzegorz Majcherek, and Ewa Parandowska are available from AUC Press. Volume 4, Babylon of Egypt: The Archaeology of Old Cairo and the Origins of the City, by Peter Sheehan, was released in October 2010.

In 2014, AUC press published The Tomb Chapel of Menna edited by Melinda Hartwig. This lavishly illustrated book is the culmination of a project to document and conserve the tomb of Menna, one of the most beautiful and complex painted tombs of the ancient Egyptian necropolis at Luxor. Through conservation, the tomb, which previously lay open to environmental influence, was brought back to its former glory. Aided by non-invasive methods of scientific analysis, the historical and cultural importance of Menna’s paintings can now be viewed and studied and enjoyed by a worldwide audience. Highdefinition photography and drawings complement specialist essays by scholars, scientists, and technicians, who discuss the artistic and cultural significance of the paintings, their architectural context, and scientific importance.


The Lost Manuscript of Frédéric Cailliaud: Arts and Crafts of the Ancient Egyptians, Nubians, and Ethiopians, translated and edited by Andrew Bednarski is the culmination of a project by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) to translate, edit, and publish the last, great work of the pioneer Egyptologist and explorer Frédéric Cailliaud.

The manuscript upon which this book is based is the result of Cailliaud’s travels in the early nineteenth century and studies conducted by him over the last 40 years of his life. The book takes Cailliaud’s rare, full-color plates, documenting the world of the ancient and nineteenth-century Nile, and combines them with the unpublished text meant to accompany them. It is much more than a traveler's account of Egypt and Sudan in the early nineteenth century. Cailliaud’s lavishly-illustrated study of Nile civilization was produced on the heels of Napoleon’s invasion into Egypt, amidst the colonial scramble for influence abroad, at a time when European scientific enquiry was developing new intellectual tools with which to question the origins and place of mankind in the world, and by a man who rose to become a central figure in French scholarship. As a result, Cailliaud’s Arts and Crafts presents a unique glimpse into cutting-edge, nineteenth-century scientific and colonial exploration by one of Europe’s top minds.



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The Cave Church of Paul the Hermit

William Lyster, with photographs by Patrick Godeau
1999. The American Research Center in Egypt
96 pp. 131 color photographs + line drawings, maps, and plan

All proceeds on the sale of the guidebook are donated to the monastery.

Distributed by Yale University

In 1997-98, ARCE undertook the first stage of ongoing conservation work at the ancient Monastery of St. Paul though funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development. This illustrated guidebook situates the monastery in its religious context and includes discussions of the Life of St. Paul, the monastery's history, its three churches, its library, and present-day monastic liturgical practice.


  • Patrick Godeau has worked extensively in the Middle East, specializing in fine art and architectural photography.
  • William Lyster is an independent scholar, based in Cairo, specializing in Coptic and Islamic art and architecture. 

Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea

Edited by Elizabeth S. Bolman, with photographs by Patrick Godeau 2002. Yale University Press and the American Research Center in Egypt 342 pp.; 210 color plates, + 85 b-w and line drawings. 31 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index Cloth ISBN 0 300 092 24 5

Distributed in the United States and Europe by Yale University Press

Copies are also available for purchase at the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea. Royalties from the sale of the book are donated to the monastery.

In 1996, funded by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development and at the request of the Coptic Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea, ARCE's Antiquities Development Project, in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, began the conservation of a unique cycle of thirteenth-century wall paintings in the monastery's ancient church.

Ignored for centuries because they were covered with soot and overpainting, the paintings revealed by the conservation effort, completed in 1999, are of extremely high quality, both stylistically and conceptually. While rooted in the Christian tradition of Egypt, they also reveal explicit connections with medieval Byzantine and Islamic art.

The paintings constitute the most complete and best-preserved iconographic program of Christian paintings to come from medieval Egypt. In addition, newly discovered wall paintings in the church, dating back to the sixth or seventh century, are published here for the first time. Monastic Visions includes contributions by art historians, conservators, historians, an archaeologist, and an anthropologist, documenting the results of ARCE's conservation effort. The text includes a full analysis of the paintings, which are reproduced in full color, and situates them within the artistic, historical, and religious context of Coptic Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean region during the Middle Ages.

Monastic Visions was recently awarded honorable mention in the Outstanding Scholarly Book (Art category) by the Association of American Publishers, and received a design and production award from the Association of American University Presses.

  • Elizabeth S. Bolman is assistant professor of art history at Temple University, Philadelphia.
  • Patrick Godeau has worked extensively in the Middle East, specializing in fine art and architectural photography.

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