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Egypt restores historic books from burning embers

03-01-2012 09:55 BJT

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Thousands of valuable, historic books were lost in a fire at the Egyptian Scientific Institute in Cairo last December, during clashes between protesters and Egypt's military. Now, a team of experts based at the National Library of Egypt, are working to restore hundreds of volumes that were salvaged from the burning embers of the Institute.

Millions of people every year visit museums and other sites to catch of glimpse of history. In Egypt, one group is working to SAVE history. They're trying to salvage hundreds of historically-valuable books that survived December's fire at the Egyptian Scientific Institute, so they can be read once again.

Experts from as far as the US and Italy are pitching in on the painstaking process of trying to restore what remains of the historic archive. It's expected to take 10 years to complete.

Dr. Zein Abdul Hadi, head of Egypt National Library, said, "I split the process of renovation into two sections; there is a section dedicated to the historic documentation of the burning of the building; meaning that there are books that can not be replaced - I want to leave in the Egyptian and international memory what happened with the burning of the institute."

Restorers laid burnt and damaged books out to dry in the Institute's garden

The Egyptian Scientific Institute was founded by Napolean Bonaparte in 1798. It housed almost 200,000 books, journals and documents and was seen as one of the most comprehensive collections of writings on Ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Dr. Zein Abdul Hadi said, "A book like the 'Description of Egypt', for example, one thousand copies were printed in the first edition and it is approximately 200 years old. It is impossible to put a price on it."

For some experts, the evidence of the tragic fire at the Institute is literally printed on some books.

Sherine Abu El-Ila, technician, said, "When we saw, the book 'Description of Egypt' with a footprint on one of its pages - we said that we must search for this size 45 foot - yes, he may have been saving the book but he didn't take notice of the fact that he was stepping on it so hard and his foot left a very dark print - I think that paper will remain like that. For me, this is the most important piece of paper because it represents what happened."

According to Egypt's Ministry of State for Antiquities, the Egyptian Scientific Institute will need nearly a half-million dollars to be fully restored. But the good news is, the ruler of the Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Sultan al-Qassimi, has vowed to pay for the restoration. He will also donate some original manuscripts, books and maps from his personal collection to the Egyptian authorities.

 

 

Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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