Lecture to Highlight American Efforts to Preserve Egyptian History

Egypt holds a special place in the imaginations of most Americans. From Brendan Fraser’s kitschy adventures in the Mummy trilogy to the iconic pyramid on the back of the dollar bill, imagery from the Old Kingdom period (2650-2134 BCE), nicknamed “The Age of Pyramids,” has been present in American art and culture since their beginnings.

Egypt also plays an important political role as a controversial American ally in the Middle East. In 2009, President Obama chose Cairo as the site of his address to the Muslim world, which garnered much criticism by implying the White House’s support of the autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

Among the organizations fostering good scholarly relations between Egypt and the United States is the non-profit American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE), the American office of which is located in San Antonio. Dr. Gerry Scott, director of ARCE, will present a lecture tomorrow at the San Antonio Museum of Art introducing the Center’s activities, titled “The American Research Center in Egypt: American Contributions to Preserving Egypt’s Ancient Past.”

Dr. Gerry Scott.

ARCE was founded in 1948 and since then has established a reputation in the academic community for supporting modern Egyptology through securing visas for visiting scholars, awarding generous fellowships to graduate students and leading conservation work for ancient Egyptian monuments.

“I think the audience will be most excited about our conservation work,” says Dr. Scott, referring to the stunning changes restoration teams have made to sites that date back millennia. In 2009, for example, the Center brought Italian painting conservators to the Khonsu Temple at Karnak to retouch some of the temple’s many wall paintings that had severely faded. The work of these conservators, which included cleaning and repainting the walls, renewed the vibrancy of the wall paintings and helps ensure future study of them.

Khonsu Temple wall painting before conservation work. Photo by Kathleen Scott.

Khonsu Temple wall painting after conseration work. Photo by Owen Murray.

“The work of American scholars in Egypt and the pairing of them with their Egyptian counterparts helps foster positive relations between the two nations,” believes Dr. Scott. Professional cooperation often leads to cultural understanding, and Dr. Scott’s lecture will show how the cultural work of ARCE is playing an important role in such efforts.

The lecture will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception to follow. Tickets are $5 for nonmembers of ARCE or SAMA and will go on sale an hour before doors open.

Also, consider donating to ARCE to ensure their cultural work continues.

Contributed by: Michael Swellander.

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