First Integrated Project
for Documenting Egyptian Heritage
by The Egyptian Government
The Heritage Documentation Center has recently initiated the first integrated project for documenting and registering Egyptian heritage. Under the project, comprehensive data is to be collected on various aspects of physical and cultural heritage including physical assets as monuments, museum acquisitions and manuscripts as well as material such as music and folk arts. The project aim is to preserving Egypts culture and civilization identity in the face of the negative implications of globalization.
The project comprises six working units:
Unit I: Egypts archeological map unit:
Unit I will be concerned with producing a map using the geographical information system to be launched on the Internet. The map will comprise a comprehensive survey of all archeological sites in Egypt containing three levels of information. First, the nation wide level will contains brief outlines of every site such as al-Giza Plateau and the Valley of Kings. Second, the site level will contains detailed data on all site components, such as the temples, pyramids or tombs. Third, the monument level will contain detailed descriptions of specific features of each monument, such as origins, inscriptions or drawings.
Unit II: Documentation of the architectural heritage of Cairo city during the 19th and 20th centuries:
Work on this unit focuses on the downtown Cairo district. A comprehensive survey of all buildings will be made, with various photographs of each building. Currently, architectural styles, component and designers, especially Italians, French & Egyptians, are being identified and will be classified and screened to highlight its most significant components.
Misr Bank is of French Design
Unit III: The natural and environmental assets unit:
This unit is concerned with producing a map of the natural assets of Egypt, including lakes, fauna and flora in addition to existing and eligible nature reserves, various geological and geographical formations such as the Red Sea coast, al-Rashrash Valley, Qubat al- Hassana and the Fossilized Forest.
The unit, in cooperation with the Environmental Affairs Authority, is carrying out a comprehensive survey of all natural plants and birds.
Unit IV: The musical heritage unit has divided Egypts musical heritage into musical eras:
This unit will focus first on the era of pioneers starting from the mid-19th Century to the early thirties of the 20th Century, ending up with the death of Sayed Darweesh. Next, the unit will focus on the era of innovators from the Thirties to the Seventies, involving the emergence of Mohammad Abdel-Wahab, Riyadh as Sunbati, Zakaria Ahmad and Mohammad Fawzi. Finally, the unit will cover the modern period from the Seventies up to the present time. The unit has recently finalized a huge data base including all works of the Egyptian composers.
Underway is a classification process for this heritage which will ultimately produce a detailed survey of each work, including the name of composers, singers and key used, etc.. The unit will publish its products in book form, including three books on Abd-el-Wahab, al-Qasabgi, and Sayed Darweesh. The unit intends to issue one book every two months to accomplish the series on the Egyptian musical celebrities.
Unit V: The photographic heritage unit:
In this unit, photographs will be collected of Egypt beginning with the 19th Century to mid-20th Century. The idea behind this work merged when Dr. Fathi Saleh, then Egypts delegate to the UNESCO in Paris, found in the Louvres antiques stores a collection of post cards owned by the family of a French archeologist. During his stay in Egypt from 1900 to 1915, he exchanged with his family about 1400 papyrus cards and post cards that were later acquired by the Louvre Museum. Dr Saleh proposed that this collection should be produced in CD ROM-form, entitled 'Description of Egypt in the early 20thCentury.
Unit VI: The folklore unit is currently involved in documenting handicrafts in Egypt:
A sample is being taken from each village famous for a certain handicraft. For examples, a sample was taken from a village famous for its palm leave work in al-Fayyoum. Another sample is from a village famous for rug making in al-Menoufia, while another sample was taken froma village famous for pottery in Qena, etc.. This heritage will be documented using video and computer.
Hence, this pioneering project is indeed crucial for maintaining the Egyptian cultural identity.