News and Events


In 1907-1909, a brand-new neighbourhood made of avenues, gardens, villas and manor houses, served by a tramway, rose up from the desert ground at Heliopolis, the ancient city of the sun, modern Masr al-Gadida (‘New Cairo’ in Arabic). This project initiated by Belgian industrialist Baron Edouard Empain was preceded by excavations that Jean Capart conducted on his behalf in 1907 to make sure that no ancient remains would be damaged or covered with this new extension of Cairo. Though mainly a desert area, a few small villages were scattered around as well. These two photographs taken by Jean Capart respectively in 1907 and 1909 give a glimpse of the area before and after construction. 

Photo 1:  Village near a pond in the area of Heliopolis, 1907
Photo 2: The Heliopolis House Hotel, near the Grand Palace Hotel (now the presidential al-Ittihadiya Palace), on Abbas Street, 1909​

Jean Capart's birthday! (21/02/2021)

Today is Jean Capart's birthday!
Both in 1937 and 1938 he celebrated this while conducting excavations at Elkab. In 1937, the Egyptian workmen organised a ‘fantasia’, followed by a banquet at the nearby farmhouse of Sheikh Ibrahim. Besides the usual Upper Egyptian tahtib performance (a folk stick-fighting dance), two belly dancers were also invited. This photograph, taken by Jean Capart, shows their performance in the courtyard in front of the mission’s dig house. In addition to the elegantly dressed workmen and their children, a few women from the surrounding villages also attended the fantasia and can be spotted in the background. According to Capart, they were mainly interested in catching a glimpse of his female collaborators Marcelle Werbrouck, Eléonore Bille-De Mot and Violette Verhoogen. Capart describes the fantasia in detail in his "Elkab : Fouilles en Égypte, impressions et souvenirs (p. 139–144)”, published in 1946.
For an animated view of this picture as a stereogram, visit our Instagram account

Elkab 84 years ago (16/02/2021)

On this day 84 years ago, Jean Capart kicked off the very first excavation season at Elkab, which marks the start of Belgian archaeological research at this important Upper Egyptian site.
At 8 a.m., 35 Egyptian workmen, led by rais Chared, gathered at one of the entrance gates at the south side of the temple enclosure and started excavations in the temple complex of the site. This photo was taken by Jean Capart during this first day of the excavations.

The excavations at Elkab are still ongoing today and are one of the longest running archaeological projects in Egypt.

Picture of the Month  (01/02/2021)

Under the eyes (and through the lens!) of Jean Capart, the entrance of Tutankhamun’s tomb is being temporarily backfilled by children under the direction of a reis ('foreman', in Arabic) on the 28th of February 1923. Jean Capart, who was attending the operation as a simple observer, and whose head was still full of the wonders he had just seen a few days before, while visiting the tomb in the company of the Queen of the Belgians, made this comment to a Belgian newspaper:

“Everything we have seen during the past week was pure phantasmagoria, a mirage that toyed with us. There was nothing in the Valley of the Kings, except a few searches made along the rocky cliffs, in the deceptive and always disappointed hope of finding the tomb of the Pharaoh intact. As if that was still possible after centuries of ransacking! One has to be an eccentric, like an English Lord can be, to throw one’s money at this Sisyphean task: endlessly moving around debris in a cloud of grey dust…” (translated from French; original text quoted by Jean-Michel Bruffaerts in Museum Dynasticum 10 (1998/1), 24).

For an animated view of this picture as a stereogram, visit our Instagram account.

SURA Project featured on RTBF

RTBF News travelled to Brussels and came to shoot a news item about the SURA Project.

SURA Project in the press

This week, FARO has devoted a blog post (in Dutch) to our project. You can read it here: Sura Project van start.

SURA Project press release

This week, the RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone) has devoted an article to our project. You can read it here: Projet "Sura" : des photos anciennes sur l'égyptologie, toutes accessibles en ligne.

Picture of the Month  (06/01/2021)

For more than a century, important restoration works have been conducted within the temple precincts at Karnak. This photograph taken by Jean Capart in 1909 recalls the enormous effort that the Egyptian Antiquities Service put in consolidating and re-building the great hypostyle hall of the temple of Amun. It documents the delicate operation of the 21st of April, during which Georges Legrain (to the right of the block) and his team removed a 50-ton architrave block in the southern part of the great hypostyle hall. This is recounted by Legrain in 'Excavations and Explorations', AREEF 1908-1909, 15. A massive amount of backfill material had been moved from the northern part of the hall to form a 15m high artifical mound along which the block could be dragged down the ramp using rope and wooden rollers. Note the flags and palm branches that were attached to the block by the workmen to bring a blessing upon the operation. For an animated view of this picture as a stereogram, visit our Instagram account.

Season's greetings

Although we will not be able to be as cosily together as on this stereogram taken by Jean Capart in February 1923, SURA's team wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

Picture: Spectators assembled to attend the fantasia organised at Dendera to greet and honour Elisabeth, Queen of the Belgians. For an animated view of this stereogram, visit our Instagram account.

Picture of the Month  (01/12/2020)

In February 1923, Elisabeth, Queen of the Belgians, was in Egypt to attend the opening of the burial chamber of the recently discovered tomb of Tutankhamun. Keen as she was on ancient Egypt, she took the opportunity to also visit other archaeological sites in Upper Egypt, among which the temple of Dendera. Upon her arrival there, a large crowd had gathered on the riverbank to welcome the Queen and attend the festivities organised by local authorities in her honour. Beside the traditional fantasia (with horsemanship performances), there was this blind singer that Jean Capart—Elisabeth’s guide through Egypt—photographed from the felucca (wooden sailing boat) loaned by Abdel Aziz Yahia Bey, governour of Qena, for the occasion. For an animated view of this picture as a stereogram, visit our Instagram account.

(21/11/2020) Lecture 48e Nederlands-Vlaamse Egyptologendag

On Saturday November 21, 2020, the SURA project is officially launched during the annual Flemish-Dutch Egyptologists day. This year, the Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels, are hosting the event, which takes place online. 

For more information, see: Egyptologendag 

If you want to register for this event, please contact Wouter Claes (w.claes [at] 


Picture of the Month  (05/11/2020)

We start our series of 'Picture of the Month' with the image that adorns the home page of our website. This photograph was taken by Jean Capart in 1905 inside the mortuary temple of Seti I in Western Thebes. It shows Charles Mathien, one of Capart’s students at the University of Liège, and early travelling companion, facing a wall inside the chapel of the solar cult.
This visit was part of a trip that Capart made to Egypt on behalf of the RMAH to choose a mastaba in Saqqara for the museum in Brussels. This 5th Dynasty mastaba, belonging to Neferirtenef, still constitutes a masterpiece of the Egyptian collection at the RMAH (E.02465).
This particular glass plate is actually part of a stereogram, i.e. a pair of two-dimensional, offset images that could be combined and viewed using a stereoscope to give the perception of 3D depth. For an animated view of this stereogram, visit our Instagram account.

(19/09/2020) Lecture Wouter Claes

On Saturday September 19, 2020, Wouter Claes gives a lecture at “La Séance de Rentrée”, the opening conference of Egyptologica a.s.b.l. The title of his lecture is “L’Égypte dans l’objectif : le projet SURA et les photographies historiques sur plaque de verre des Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire”. The lecture takes place at the Centre Culturel of Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, but can be followed online as well. 

For more information on registration and the full program, see: