God is beautiful and He loves beauty

The Supreme Council of Antiquities: Heir of the Comité


The Islamic architectural heritage of Cairo is as important as the Pharaonic one and this is why the idea of having a body responsible for the preservation and conservation of the Muslim buildings was perceived 122 years ago. With the establishment of the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe in the month of December the year1881 by Khedive Tawfiq two sub-committees were now in action. The first one made an inventory of all the Islamic and Coptic monuments in Egypt, specifying those in need of help while the second recommended a methodology for their rescue.
In 1961 the Comité was dissolved and the Permanent Committee for Islamic and Coptic Monuments of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization was formed in its stead (now known as the Supreme Council of Antiquities). Being the sole heir of the Comité the SCA has taken upon itself to proceed with the work of the Comité in restoring and conserving the Islamic heritage of Cairo. As the clock is ticking and several buildings are endangered by the rising water-table and years of negligence, immediate courses of action have been developed to save the buildings. Several buildings have already been restored; Bab Zuwayla, restored by the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Tikiyya Mawlawiyya, restored by the Italian Institute, are two very good examples for the meticulous work inherited from the Comité.
Between the years 1882 and 1953 the Comité published a series of bulletins recording their official meetings and technical reports produced over its lifetime. Valuable information together with plans and photographs of monuments, some of which are now dilapidated, were published in these bulletins. The Bulletins are an indispensable tool for the restoration projects and for the study of the Islamic architectural heritage of Cairo. They were published in French, the official language of the meetings and some were later translated into Arabic. Unfortunately they were published on acidic paper and very few hard copies can now be found. The Islamic Art Network took upon itself the huge and tedious task of digitizing and cataloguing these Bulletins. This immense effort will facilitate scholarly and empirical work on restoration and art history, especially since they are now easily accessible on the Internet for those interested. Through this electronic publishing we hope that the work of the Comité will be revived.

Prof. Zahi Hawass
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities
Ministry of Culture
Arab Republic of Egypt