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Egyptian Geology Museum


Egyptian Geological Museum

Ather El Nabi - Misr El Kadima, Cairo, Egypt

Geol. Fathi Ibrahim Imbabi Director General

 

The Egyptian Geological Museum was established and opened for the public in 1904, as a part of the Egyptian Geological Survey (EGS) founded earlier in 1896. The museum introduces visitors to Egyptian geology and history. Mining and metallurgy started many thousands of years ago, in predynastic times. Egyptians were the pioneers in extraction and utilization of metals and stones, the essential basics of civilization. They were the first to discover gold and copper and mine them from the Eastern Desert and Sinai.

 


The first geological map known to us was drawn to represent the Fawakhir gold mine on a papyrus in the Turin Museum. Iron was smelted from ores in Aswan and smelting was also carried out at Naukratis and Defna in the Delta region.

 

This added to the Egyptian power and prosperity. During the Ptolemaic and Byzantien periods, granite was quarried from Mons Claudianus, the Imperial Porphyry from Gabal Dokhan and the Breccia Verd from Wadi Hammamat . These were used in decorating palaces all over the Roman Empire. Egypt was also the first to produce famous types of glass. Precious stones, especially turquoise, emerald and peridot, were gathered and turned into very pretty jewelry by the ancients.

 

 

In the Fayoum

 

The geological history of Egypt as indicated by its fauna and flora is displayed in the Museum. There is also the unique collection of the Fayoum vertebrate fossils on display and of course, a large collection of Egyptian and other minerals, ores and rocks. In addition, a very valuable collection of meteorites discovered in Egypt and from other places in the world are displayed. These include the famous Egyptian meteorite Nakhlite believed to be from Mars.

 

The Museum is served by a library with references that date as far back as 1778, in addition to up to date references and bibliographies. These are available to the public and scientists. The Museum also includes some specialized laboratories for mineralogical, petrological and paleontological (both vertebrate and invertebrate) studies. Models for rare vertebrate fossils are made to facilitate detailed studies and preserve the original specimens. The Museum shares in the studies conducted on the protectorates and outstanding geological features in order to raise the public environmental awareness.

 

Joint researches and cooperation with other international geological surveys, universities and museums are among the major concerns of the Museum. Cooperation with Duke University (U.S.A.), Toronto and Milano Geological Museums (Italy), The Museum of Natural History in London (U.K.) are good examples. Also, support to local museums in universities and schools is offered. This includes providing samples and training secondary school teachers and specialists from other scientific institutions.

 

A Guide To The Collection Of The Egyptian Geological Museum

 

Minerals and Rocks Gallery
Gold alloy (right), gold ring (middle) & gold bearing quartz (left) Varieties of quartz Collection of specimens that illustrate the physical properties of minerals Lazurite ( Lapis Lazuli)
       
Minerals and Rocks Gallery - Continued
Polished piece and necklace of malachite Polished piece of peridot Necklace and polished pieces of amber Polished piece of agate
       
Minerals and Rocks Gallery - Continued
Andesite rock showing the porphyritic texture Varieties of rhyolite rock Crystals of smoky quartz Silica glass( Libyan Desert glass)
       
Minerals and Rocks Gallery - Continued Invertebrate Fossils
Nakhla meteorite (achondrite) Isna meteorite (achondrite) Ammonite fossil Echinoderms fossil
       
Vertebrate Fossils
Skull and lower jaw of Basilosurus isis, (Late Eocene, Fayoum) Fossilized shark (Curcharodon tooth) Late Eocene, Fayoum with recent shark teeth. The famous Aegyptithicus (Oligocene, Fayoum) which represents the earliest apes (left) , with the proconsul africanus (right) Testudo ammon (Oligocene, Fayoum)
       
Vertebrate Fossils - Continued
     
Model of an Arsinoitherium      

 

The Egyptian Geological Museum (E.G.M.) is a unique establishment in Egypt. It houses and exhibits geological specimens from Egypt and all parts of the world.

 

The museum is a part of the Egyptian Geological Survey and Mining Authority (EGSMA). The Egyptian Geological Museum was officially opened as a part of the Survey and was allocated a beautiful and specially designed building in the gardens of the Ministry of Public Works in downtown Cairo. It was opened for the public in 1904 and remained as one of the cultural centers in Cairo up to 1982 when the building was taken down and the Museum transferred to its present location near Maadi (southern Cairo).

 

The first Museum Keeper was William Andrews (1904), followed by Henry Osborne (1906). Hassan Sadek was the first Egyptian Museum Keeper.

 

The famous fossil collection of the Fayoum vertebrates was the first to be displayed in the new museum. The collection was dug from the Fayoum in 1898, sent to the British Museum in London for identification in 1899 and returned for display. The collection continued to grow and become more varied with the increased number of field expedition and the different areas covered by field work.

 

The Geological Museum celebrated its 75th Anniversary in the year 1979 and a special postal stamp was issued to commemorate the occasion . However, in the following year the building had to be torn down because of the Cairo Underground Metro, and its collection was transferred to a temporary sits in the Al Zahra area near Maadi.

 

The Geological Museum plays the essential role of introducing earth sciences to the public. It emphasizes the geology of Egypt, its minerals, rocks and fossils, through well organized displays. The Museum participates in the advancement of scientific research through collaboration with scientists from Egypt and abroad, who seek out famous collections of vertebrate fossils and of meteorites.

 

The Museum is open to the public from 8.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. daily, except on Thursday, Fridays and official holidays. The Museum collection is displayed in three Galleries. These are described in brief, below :

 

Minerals & Rocks Gallery

 

This Gallery is one of the three main galleries of the Museum. In this gallery, various specimens of minerals and rock are exhibited. These represent the main occurrences of minerals and rocks in Egypt and some important specimens from other parts of the world.

 

Mineral Exhibitions: These exhibitions show different varieties of minerals that are classified on the basis of their chemical composition, their occurrences in Egypt, their physical properties and their uses. These include :

 

A- Gold Glass Case: In ancient times, Egyptians exploited many sites for gold in the Eastern Desert and utilized large quantities of gold in the making of jewelry and object of fine art.

The gold show case exhibits specimens of gold-bearing quartz and calcite that represent the natural occurrence of gold. It also shows the different stages of extraction of gold from its ores by amalgamation. At the same time, it displays some different gold alloys.

 

B - Al Omarys Showcase: This glass case exhibits a collection of minerals of special value donated by the late Omarys family. The collection represents some rare varieties of the mineral species in their ideal habitat.

 

C - Chemical Classification of Minerals: This exhibition occupies a large sector of the minerals and rocks gallery. It is devoted to the minerals arranged according to their chemical composition. In this case, minerals are exhibited as groups on the basis of the type of anion, as follows:

1. Native elements, including , gold, silver, copper and sulfur.

 

2. Oxides, including, including different varieties of quartz, corundum, ilmenite, chromite, cassiterite, hematite, magnetite, limonite and goethite (among others).

 

3. Sulfides, including, Pyrite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, cinnabar, arsinopyrie and molybdenite (among others).

 

4. Halides, including, halite, fluorite and others.

 

5. Carbonates, including siderite, malachite, azurite, calcite, aragonite, cerrusite, strontianite, magnesite and others.

 

6. Sulfates, including gypsum, anhydrite, barite, celesite, epsomite, alunite (among others).

 

7. Phosphates, including apatite varieties and others.

 

8. Miscellaneous Minerals, including molybdates (wolfenite), borates (borax) and chromates (crocoite).

 

9. Silicates, including the main groups of silicate minerals such as nesosilicates (olivine and others), sorosilicates (hemimorphite and others) , cyclosilicates (beryl and others), inosilicates (enstatite , tremolite and others), phyllosilicates (micas and others) , tectosilicates (feldspars and others).

 

D- Egyptian Ores: In these showcases the Egyptian ores are arranged according to their localities in Egypt, e.g., Sinai ores (coal , manganese ores, turquoise etc) ; Eastern Desert ores ( iron ores, mica, wolframite, chromite, magnesite, talc, quartz etc) and Western Desert ores (iron ores, phosphate, etc.).

 

magnesite

 

 

E- Exhibition of the physical properties: This exhibition shows collection of specimens that illustrate the physical properties of minerals, such as the variation of color in the same mineral e.g.( quartz); stability of streak irrespective of the variation of color in the same mineral; luster; play of colors; transparency; hardness and cleavage.

 

F- Exhibition of Morphological Features: This show case exhibits a collection of minerals of special forms, such as; fibrous gypsum , oolitic hematite and others.

 

G - Exhibition of Crystallographic Systems: This show case displays a collection of minerals occurring in the crystallographic systems , i.e., cubic tetragonal , hexagonal , trigonal orthorhombic , monoclinic and triclinic systems. Each of these systems is represented by ideal mineral crystals accompanied by their stereographic projections.

Earings with center stones of  Peridot (Not in the Museum collection)

 

H - Exhibition of Gems: This exhibition displays collections of minerals that are characterized by pretty colors , transparency and hardness. It includes the well known Egyptian gems such as emeralds , turquoise and peridot. In addition to these Egyptian gems, it contains some of the world gems such as topaz, amber tourmaline, garnet and others

 

Exhibitions of Rocks: These exhibitions show representative specimens for the three main groups of rocks consisting of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic as well as , most of the famous Egyptian rocks. The include:

 

A Igneous Rocks: This exhibition shows representative specimens of most of the subdivisions of igneous rocks. In this exhibition, the rocks are arranged according to the degree of saturation of silica i.e. over saturated, saturated and under saturated. The exhibition also shows the intrusive rocks of each subdivision and their equivalents of the extrusive rocks. Also, in a special show case are the ornamental Egyptian rocks such as granite, Imperial porphyry and others.

 

B- Sedimentary Rocks: The exhibitions of sedimentary rocks show specimens representing the two main subdivisions of these rocks consisting of clastic and nonclastic. The clastic rocks are represented by breccia , conglomerate, sandstone, shale and a few others, while the nonclastic rocks are represented by limestone, dolomite, coal, phosphates and others.

 

The coarse gneissic texture on the statue of Khafre, 4th Dynasty Pharaoh of Egypt (Not in the Museum collection)

 

C- Metamorphic Rocks: The exhibitions of the metamorphic rocks show most of their common varieties. The metamorphic rocks in this exhibition are classified according to their textures into two main groups consisting of non foliated rocks such as marbles, quartzite, and foliated rocks such as gneisses, schists, and others.

 

D- Famous Egyptians Rocks: This exhibition shows some of the most famous ornamental Egyptian stones which were used during ancient Egyptian times. These include monumental granite , diorite, Imperial porphyry, Egyptian alabaster , Nummulitic limestone, breccia verde antico, marble and others.

 

Miscellaneous:

 

A Exhibition of Flint Implements: This exhibition shows a collection of flint implements and other stone tools of prehistoric time. The collection illustrates the development of the stone industries through the three main periods of prehistoric times consisting of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.

 

 

Moldvite

 

B Exhibition of Tektites and Silica Glass: This exhibition shows a wide variety of tektites from different parts of the world including Moldvites, Australuite, Indochinites and others.

 

A large space of this exhibitions is devoted to the well known Egyptian silica glass ( Libyan Desert Glass) and three meteorites that were collected from the glass field during a May 1991 expedition. This expedition explored the possibility that Libyan Glass was formed as the result of an impact of a huge meteorite.

 

C- Exhibition of Meteorites: This shows a huge international collection of meteorites , representing the three main groups consisting of irons, stony- irons and stones. In a separate show case , the Egyptian meteorites are shown.

 

These are the Nakhla , Isna, Great Sand Sea 004 and El Bahrian meteorites.

 

Invertebrate Fossils Gallery

 

 

This is the second of the three main exhibition galleries in the Egyptian Geological Museum, which consist of the Rocks & Minerals , Invertebrate Fossils and Vertebrate Fossils galleries.

 

This gallery is divided mainly into three divisions consisting of the Stratigraphics Sequence ( Geological Column), Egyptian Geology as represented by fossils and Systematic paleontology. In addition, the Gallery shows a collection of specimens that represent the methods of preservation. There are also some collections that represent gifts to the Museum.

 

1- The Stratigraphic Sequence ( Geological Column): This display exhibits invertebrate fossils arranged stratigraphically from Cambrian to recent times and includes Trilobites , Corals , Mollusca , Echinoid and others.

 

 

A Brachiopoda

 

2- The Egyptian Geology : Here is displayed exhibits of the Egyptian stratigraphic sequence as given by fossils from Cambro of Ordovician ( represented by trace fossils), including Brachiopoda , Mollusca, Echinoid and others.

 

3- Systematic Paleontology : Organisms are not only classified into two great kingdoms ( Plants & Animals) but are also subdivided into successively smaller and more restricted groups. There is a special show case exhibiting the systematic classification of invertebrate organism.

 

4- Miscellaneous:

 

4.1 The prehistoric Civilization Collection: A special showcase provides some imaginative pictures depicting the life of prehistoric man, along with the tools he used such as arrows, axes, knives and others.

 

4.2 Display of Methods of Preservation: This collection exhibits samples showing the mineralogical replacement which happened to the hard part of the organisms. Replacement can be done through the introduction of many substances such as iron oxides, calcite; silica and others.

 

4.3 The Ex-Royal Family Samples : This display contains a collection of some most rare and unbelievable samples, including :

 

1. A very beautiful pearly shell fashioned as a crown. It was presented to the Ex-King by the Egyptian Scouts.

 

2. A picture of the Ex- King ( Fouad) and a part of the Opera Aida engraved on gastropod shells.

 

3. A collection of shells fashioned in a beautiful manner.

 

4. A collection of amber containing fossilized insects.

 

5. Some Corals from the Egyptian beaches:

 

4.4 Display of Fossil Plants : This display exhibits a collection of fossil plants that represent carboniferous and Jurassic Periods in the Sinai along with Cretaceous , Oligocene and Pleistocene in other areas of Egypt and abroad. The Plants are fossilized either as prints on rocks or by mineralogical replacement such as the solidified wood from the Siwa Oasis, Maadi and Cairo (along the Suez Road).

 

III- Vertebrate Fossils Gallery

 

 

This gallery hosts mainly the world famous Vertebrate fossils discovered in the Fayoum province , together with a few other important Fossils The main displays are;

 

1 - Arsinoitherium show cases : Arsinoitherium is a unique creature which lived some 34 million years ago. Fossilized remains are found in the lower Oligocene in the Gabal Qatrani formation of the Fayoum. This great beast was of Rhinoceros size. The most striking feature o f the animal was the presence of a huge pair of horns on the nasal bones , together with small ones on the frontals. Many glass cases exhibit different fossilized parts of Arsionitherium and there is also a complete model of this animal at one fifth its natural size.

 

2- Moeritherium : Moeritheries were heavily built animals about the size of pigs with long bodies and short legs that terminated in broad , spreading feet with flat hooves on the end of the toes. The tail was short. They lived in Egypt during the late Eocene ( 40 million years B.P.) and early Oligocene periods. Fossilized remains of Moeritherium have been extracted from the Qasr el Sagha Formation and the Gabal Qattrani Formation north of Birket Qarun in the Fayoum. The Museum shows a complete skeleton of the Moeritheriun in a special glass show case.

 

 

An artist's rendering of a  Moeritherium

 

3- Palaeomastodon : Palaeomastodon and phiomia were the first of the mastodons. They lived during the lower Oligocene period in Egypt. Fossilized remains of paleomastodon and Phiomia are found in the Lower Oligocene Gabal Qatrani Formation located in the Fayoum. The Museum shows a complete skull and other parts of the Palaeomastodon.

 

4- Basilosaurus (Zeuglodon): Basilosaurus (or Zeuglodon) was a huge whale that lived during the Eocene. Well preserved skeletons of this creature are fairly common in the Gehannam Formation near Garet Gehannam north of Wadi El Rayan in the Fayoum. The body of Basilosaurus was over sixty feet in length.

 

5- Aegyptopithecus : This is one of the most important specimens in the collection of the Egyptian Museum. This extraordinary fossilized creature lived during the late Oligocene in the Fayoum region.

 

Aegyptopithecus was a more advanced creature than the typical ape adaptations. Aegyptopithecus, evidently about the size of a modern Gibbon , had a somewhat expanded cranium as well as large, forward directed eyes adapted to binocular vision and depth perception.

 

6- Tomistoma : Tomistoma is one of the widespread reptiles which lived during the Eocene , Oligocene and Miocene in Egypt. Fossilized remains of this creature have been found in Qaser el Sagha and Gabal Qatrani Formations of the Fayoum region as well as in the Moghra Formation, Wadi Moghra in the Qattara Depression. Many specimens are exhibited in the Museum.

 

7- Turtles : Numerous fossilized true turtles are exhibited in the Museum. These were collected from different sites in the Fayoum and Wadi Moghra. These turtles lived in different environments including dry land, rivers, marshes and seas.

 

8- Sirenia (Sea Cow) : Sirenia (Sea Cow) are purely aquatic animals found along the coasts and river mouths of various parts of the world. The body has assumed the torpedo like characteristic of many water vertebrates , with no distinct neck and with a laterally expanded tail. Remains of fossilized primitive Sirenians are found in different sites through the Eocene Formations of Egypt such as at Mokattam, Qasr el Sagha and wadi Hitan in the Fayoum region. These lived during the middle and late Eocene.

 

The discovery of primitive Sirenians remains in Egypt suggests that this creature originated in Africa and migrated to other parts of the world.

 

9- Fish : Numerous types of fish are exhibited in special show cases in the Museum. These fossilized fish come from many geological periods. One of the most important example is the middle Eocene fossilized fish from a limestone quarry at Ain El Sira, Cairo.

 

The Library

 

In addition to the three galleries , there is a library specialized in geological sciences. It hosts more than 10.000 text books, journals, periodicals, annals and maps. It includes original editions of many rare books such as Fossilen Mollusken by Von Wien (1836) , Echinodermes by Agassiz (1847) , Naqada and Betrie (1895) among others.

 

CONCLUSION

 

 

Scientific museums play an important role in educating the public. The large numbers of these museums in Egypt is indicative of our country's desire to spread scientific awareness in the public sector.

 

The Egyptian Geological Museum is the museums that disseminates geological science to the public. It introduces the discoveries of the Egyptian Geological survey and Mining Authority ( EGSMA), in the field of the geology in Egypt , to the public. While it provides considerable attention to the ancient life forms in Egypt, it also devotes a great interest to the most important mineral deposits in Egypt, along with their uses during the different ages. Meteorites and their effects on the earth surface are also considered within the main topics of the museum.

 

Moreover, it concerns the history of the Earth as a whole, including the most important events effecting the Earth. It explores the creation of life and its development during the various geological periods. During one visit to the Egyptian Geological Museum, one may gain considerable knowledge about the history of the Earth as well as the features of the Egyptian Land over millions while also examining the strange forms of creations that spread during different periods in Egypt.

 

See also:

 

 

The Egyptian Geological Museum
Ather El Nabi - Misr El Kadima, Cairo, Egypt

OFFICE HOURS: 8:30 am to 2:30 pm
Except Thursday, Friday and Official Holidays

Free Admittance Box :

Dawawin No. 11521

Phone : 25240916 - 25240917

e-mail: egsma@idsc.gov.eg
baha@frcu.eun.eg