The Collection

The core of the RMAH photographic archive

consists of almost 7.000 high resolution historical glass plate photographic negatives dated to the first half of the 20th century.

Egypt & the RMAH

The core of this collection consists of photos that were taken mainly by Jean Capart and his collaborators such as Arpag Mekhitarian (1911–2004) and Marcelle Werbrouck (1889–1959) during field trips and research stays in Egypt. These photos document the excavations and surveys conducted by the RMAH at different sites in Egypt (Elkab, Heliopolis, Sheikh Fadl, Tell Hou, Kom Ombo, Tahta, el-Kola), and show the original find context of some 300 objects in the Egyptian collection of the RMAH. As such, they illustrate and tell the story of the formative period of the Egyptian department of the RMAH in terms of the development of its collection and its scientific activities in Egypt.

Landscapes & Excavations

This collection of photographs documents the state of preservation and conservation, the setting and landscape of a vast array of different monuments and sites spread across the entire Egyptian Nile Valley. The international dimension of this collection is illustrated by the presence of several hundreds of photographs that were taken at sites where archaeological excavations by the Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte and other foreign archaeological institutions were ongoing when Capart and/or his collaborators visited the place. 

  • Abydos (University of Liverpool: 1905–1906)
  • Amarna (Deutsche Orientgesellschaft: 1911–1914 and the Egypt Exploration Society: 1921–1936)
  • Armant (Egypt Exploration Society 1929–1938)
  • Deir el-Bahari (Egypt Exploration Fund: 1892–1907 and the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 1911–1931)
  • Edfu (IFAO: 1897–1918)
  • Giza (Harvard University/MFA Boston: 1905–1942)
  • Karnak (Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte: 1899–1954)
  • Medamud (IFAO: 1925–1932)
  • Tanis (Mission française: 1929–1956)
  • Tod (Musée du Louvre: 1934–1950)

Egyptian Collections in Europe & USA

Capart became an internationally acclaimed scholar who was well connected with the international community of Egyptologists. At the invitation of the Educational Foundation of the Commission for Relief in Belgium, Capart toured the USA between 1924 and 1925 as Visiting Professor. In 1932, he was appointed Advisory Curator at the Brooklyn Museum. Capart divided his time between Brussels and Brooklyn until the outbreak of WWII but also spent much time in Egypt for excavations and research, and visited various museums on the European continent. During those research stays and visits, he photographed many objects from Egyptian collections in the world’s greatest museums.

Egyptian Fauna & Flora

A special set of glass plates consists of several dozen images depicting the local Egyptian fauna and particularly, flora. The vast majority of these photos were made by German Egyptologist Ludwig Keimer (1893–1957) who was in close contact with Jean Capart. In exchange for an annual allowance, Keimer would provide the RMAH with duplicates of his photographic documents related to his research on Egypt’s fauna and flora. As such, Keimer disposed of additional means to pursue his research, and Capart was able to further develop and enrich the photographic archive of the Egyptian department of the RMAH with a new subject matter that previously did not receive much attention from the Egyptological community. 

Daily Life & Travel in Egypt

These images illustrate the daily life of the local Egyptian population and the way Westerners experienced travelling through Egypt during the early 20th century, commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Age of Travel’. Over 50 photos illustrate for instance the two ‘Royal Voyages’ Capart made in the company of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium. In 1923 they were present at the official opening of the burial chamber of the tomb of Tutankhamun, while 7 years later, Capart accompanied the Belgian Queen and King on a cruise along the Nile. The photos from this archive provide an exceptional glimpse behind the scenes of both trips and complement the already known archival sources of these journeys that are kept in the official archives of the Belgian Royal Palace. 

The Online Database

The cataloguing of the digitised images and their metadata is now in progress. Once finished, the images and their metadata will be integrated into the RMAH’s central collections management system and made available online in Carmentis

About the SURA project