ARCE

About Us & Our Collections

About ARCE

Founded in 1948, the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) is a private, nonprofit organization composed of educational and cultural institutions, professional scholars, and private individuals. ARCE's mission is to support research on all aspects of Egyptian history and culture, foster a broader knowledge about Egypt among the general public, and strengthen AmericanEgyptian cultural ties. Over the past 72 years, ARCE has served as a powerful force for conservation, education, and historical research within Egypt.

ARCE’s archival and library collections cover 7,000 years of Egyptian history, including prehistoric, Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, and more contemporary materials. ARCE’s Archives include institutional records recording the activities of ARCE throughout the years, as well as documentation of projects facilitated by ARCE to protect cultural sites in Egypt. ARCE’s conservation efforts are housed within the ARCE Conservation Archives at the organization’s Cairo Center, which serves as a resource for researchers interested in the dynamics of preserving Egyptian cultural heritage. The Cairo Center also contains the Marilyn M. and William Kelly Simpson Library , which boasts more than forty thousand volumes in multiple languages (and is now searchable through the online catalogue).

The Conservation Archives

Beginning in the early 1990s with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), ARCE engaged in vital conservation work at monuments and sites throughout Egypt, leading to a unique collection of material documenting conservation projects that constitute the ARCE Conservation Archives. In total, the Conservation Archives includes 79 collections, each documenting a different project conducted in Egypt.

The Conservation Archives covers a wide range of Egyptian history spanning over 7,000 years. Geographically and historically diverse, the projects include Pharaonic, Coptic, Islamic, and other Egyptian cultural heritage sites of significance. Some examples include Theban tombs TT50, TT69, and TT110, the Roman Wall Paintings at Luxor Temple, The Red Monastery, and the Bab Zuwayla monument in Historic Cairo. Project work includes conservation and archaeological field training, structural preservation, wall paintings conservation, and historical and archaeological documentation.

Each collection contains photographic and written material including 35mm and 120mm color and black & white slides, born-digital images, technical reports, and various grant-related documentation, in addition to a select number of project artifacts and architectural drawings. There are around 70,000 photographic slides, 200,000 images, 1,200 documents, 1,000 drawings, as well as a small selection of artifacts and multimedia content.

In 2015, ARCE began a partnership with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to digitize, describe, and publish content from the Conservation Archives. During the first phase of this partnership, ARCE and UCLA worked together to publish two archival collections in UCLA’s International Digital Ephemera Project (IDEP): the Luxor Roman Wall Paintings and the Tomb of Anen collections. In 2019, ARCE was awarded an National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Foundations Grant for Humanities Collections and Reference Resources to publish an additional three collections and build a new ARCE web portal to showcase these collections.

Updates

The ARCE Archives website launched in Fall 2020 with five collections from the Conservation Archives. The online archives includes the two projects previously published on the IDEP site, the Conservation of the Tomb of Anen in the Theban Necropolis, and the Conservation of the Roman Wall Paintings in Luxor Temple, and three additional projects: the Conservation of Aslam al-Silahdar mosque in Historic Cairo, the Architectural Conservation at the Red Monastery in Sohag, Egypt, and the Preservation of the Funerary Enclosure of King Khasekhemwy (Shunet el-Zebib) in Abydos. ARCE is currently seeking out additional funding to digitize and publish the remainder of the collections in the Conservation Archives.

Contact Us

The Conservation Archives is housed in the ARCE Cairo Center within our Archives room. In addition to the records available through the Archives website, all materials in the physical archives are freely accessible in-person through an appointment or through consultation with the Archives staff. Scheduling an appointment with the Archives staff is the best way to plan a visit. To schedule an appointment, email archives@arce.org. All materials in the Conservation Archives are available for free, and ARCE membership status does not impact a researcher’s access to material.

The Archives is open during working hours, 8:30AM – 4:30PM on Sunday through Thursday. The Archives is closed for weekends (Fridays and Saturdays) as well as all official American and Egyptian holidays. Ramadan may also affect working hours.

American Research Center in Egypt (Cairo Office)

2 Midan Símon Bolívar (Qasr al-Dubara)

Garden City

Cairo, Egypt 11461

Email: archives@arce.org

Phone: +20 2 2794-8239

Collections

Conservation of the Tomb of Anen in the Theban Necropolis

Project Director: Lyla Pinch-Brock

Historic Era: Dynastic Period (New Kingdom)

Project Location: Luxor

October 2002 – January 2003

Located on necropolis of the West Bank of Luxor, the tomb of Anen belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest who served under the reign of Amenhotep III. Over time, the tomb had deteriorated and the roof caved in, filling the tomb with rubble and subjecting the wall paintings to light, heat, and water damage, as well as looters. This project, sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum, was to conserve and protect the tomb of Anen (TT120), as well as the paintings inside.

In addition to stabilizing and reinforcing the walls of the tomb, the conservators mechanically cleaned the reliefs with brushes and scalpels and repaired the mission sections through re-adhered fragments with special mortar. Paintings that had been damaged or removed were restored, mimicking an ancient painting technique where craftsmen sketched the relief images in red ink before filling them with color. The team also constructed a protective display box over the restored wall reliefs to protect them from human or environmental damage and built a series of low slanted walls along the top edges of the tomb to divert rainwater.
Read more about the conservation of the Tomb of Anen .

Statement of Responsibility:

The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) managed the implementation of the conservation of the tomb of Anen in the Theban Necropolis in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities). Lyla Pinch-Brock, co-director of the Royal Ontario Theban Tombs Project based in Toronto, Canada, served as director of the project, aided by conservator Ewa Paradonwska and architect Nicholas Warner. Photographs were taken by Edwin C. Brock and Francis Dzikowski.

Funding:

Conservation of the monument was funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Egyptian Antiquities Project (ARCE-EAP) under United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant No. 263-G-00-93-00089-00 (formerly 263-0000-G-00-308900).

Conservation of the Roman Wall Paintings in Luxor Temple

Project Director: Michael Jones

Historic Era: Roman Period

Project Location: Luxor

October 2005 – December 2008

Luxor Temple was one of the most important political and religious sites during Egypt’s Pharaonic period. During the Roman era, parts of the temple were converted into cult chapels and churches. This project was initiated to clean and conserve valuable Roman wall paintings at the Luxor Temple. The paintings adorn the late 3rd century AD Roman legionary shrine, from the reign of Diocletian, within the Luxor Temple. The murals were painted in fresco on lime plaster by a group of exceptionally skilled artists who were probably attached to Diocletian's imperial court.

Project Director Michael Jones and conservators Luigi De Cesaris and Alberto Sucato worked in collaboration with Chicago House and the Luxor office of the Ministry of Antiquities. Conservation work on the Roman wall paintings was carried out for three full seasons. The project highlighted and addressed two important issues: the tragic loss of much of the historicallyimportant Roman paintings since John Gardner Wilkinson documented them in the mid-19th century; and the dilemma of how to preserve the paintings in the future after the cleaning and conservation with an intrusive shelter without compromising the temple.

Statement of Responsibility:

Amenhotep III was responsible for constructing the greater part of the present Luxor Temple around 1400 BC. Under Diocletian, Emperor of Rome, 245-313 AD, the first Tetrarchy transformed the temple site, including one of the temple’s offering halls into what is now known as the imperial cult chamber. In the 2000s, the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities), conducted several site visits to Luxor to extensively document the grounds and undertake conversation efforts for the Roman frescoes present in that chamber.

Funding:

Conservation of the monument was funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project (ARCE-EAC) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agreement No. 263-A-00-04-00018-00.

Conservation of the Mosque of Aslam al-Silahdar in Darb al-Ahmar, Cairo

Project Director: Aga Khan Trust for Culture & Christophe Bouleau

Historic Era: Islamic Period (Mamluk)

Project location: Cairo Governorate

June 2005 – March 2009

The mosque of Aslam al-Silahdar was built in 1344 by a Mamluk prince and features jewel-toned inlaid marble and glittering glass mosaics. The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) carried out the comprehensive conservation of the monument directed by Christophe Bouleau. ARCE and skilled laborers from the surrounding neighborhood worked on the structural and aesthetic conservation of the mosque.

Repairs first began on the exterior of the mosque and the interior was used as a workspace to clean and conserve smaller movable components like doors, wooden paneling, metal grilles, and windows. A geotechnical survey assessed the mosque’s structural stability and cleaning and documentation work began on the exterior façades, roof, dome, and minaret. A new ablution was also constructed to replace the original one, which had posed a conservation risk to the mosque due to water leakage.

The team removed and replaced decayed stones and cleaned the minaret and dome with micro sandblasting. They replaced the wooden roofing and then carefully insulated against the weather and moisture. Inside the mosque, the project plastered and repainted walls, installed new windows, and conserved and reinstalled original inlaid doors and wooden paneling. Cracks in the walls were consolidated and new brickwork fitted where necessary to reinforce the walls and fill gaps. Finally, conservators cleaned and fully restored all of the mosque’s stunning gypsum and stucco decorations to their original vibrancy.
Read more about the conservation of Aslam al-Silahdar.

Statement of Responsibility:

The conservation of the Aslam al-Silahdar mosque was managed and implemented by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) with the support of the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).

Funding:

Conservation of the monument was funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project (ARCE-EAC) under United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agreement No. 263-A-00-04-00018-00, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), and the U.S. Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Red Monastery Architectural Conservation

Project Director: Nicholas Warner

Historic Era: Byzantine

Project Location: Sohag Governorate

January 2015 – December 2018

The Red Monastery Church conservation project is one of ARCE’s longest and most successful endeavors in preservation. Architectural conservation and site presentation work was carried out at the Red Monastery Church under the supervision of Michael Jones and Nicholas Warner. The work was executed by Nicholas Warner with his team of local, skilled craftsmen.

Among the tasks completed were: installation of new limestone paving and a new electrical network with LED lighting throughout the church; installation of new wooden doors and cupboards; replacement of sections of timber damaged by termites; roofing work; re-erection of fallen columns in the nave; installation of displays of archaeological finds; installation of a new altar in the sanctuary; and repair and conservation of the interior and exterior of the tower adjacent to the church.
Read more about the architectural conservation at the Red Monastery.

Statement of Responsibility:

The American Research in Egypt (ARCE) managed the implementation of the architectural conservation of the Red Monastery in Sohag, Egypt, led by Michael Jones and architect Nicholas Warner. Conservation work was supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).

Funding:

Conservation of the monument was funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Cultural Heritage Tourism Project in Egypt (Annual Program Statement) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agreement No. 263-A-15-00007.

Documentation and Conservation of the Funerary Monument of King Khasekhemwy at Abydos

Project Directors: David O’Connor and Matthew D. Adams

Historic Era: Pharaonic Period (Old Kingdom)

Project Location: Sohag Governorate

1999 – 2006 and 2010 – 2014

The funerary monument of King Khasekhemwy in Abydos is also known as the Shunet el-Zebib. Little is known about King Khasekhemwy, the last king of the Second Dynasty, but his reign ended in 2686 BC, making Shunet el-Zebib among the oldest surviving mud brick structures in the world and the best example of Egypt’s earliest tradition of royal mortuary building. Funding from the Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP) between 1999 and 2006 resulted in documentation and conservation of approximately 50% of the 200-meter perimeter using newly made mud bricks of the same size and originally sourced materials to re-establish structural integrity.

Follow-up funding provided under a subsequent USAID grant in 2010 enabled team members to continue with the stabilization and conservation of the enclosure, parts of which still risked collapse. The precarious situation at the Shunet el-Zebib was evidenced by its inclusion in the World Monuments Fund’s 2008 Watch List of the World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites.

Statement of Responsibility:

The conservation and documentation of King Khasekhemwy’s Funerary Monument at Abydos was implemented by the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, led by David O’Connor, Director, and Matthew Douglas Adams, Associate Director, under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Museum-Yale University-Institute of Fine Arts, New York University Expedition to North Abydos, Egypt (William Kelly Simpson and David O’Connor, Co-directors) and in collaboration with consultants William C.S. Remsen (International Preservation Associates, Inc.), Anthony Crosby (Architectural Conservation, LLC), and Conor Power (Structural Technology, Inc.). Conservation work was made possible with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities).

Funding:

Conservation of the monument was originally funded through the American Research Center in Egypt's Egyptian Antiquities Project (ARCE-EAP) under United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Agreement No. 263-G-00-93-00089-00 (1999-2006) and subsequently funded through ARCE's Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project (ARCE-EAC) under USAID Agreement No. 263-A-00-04-00018-00 (2010-2012).