Egypt Documentation Project

Photography training in a gallery in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo

The Egypt Documentation Project is a two-year programme, supported by Arcadia, which will train early-career archaeologists from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities in the digital documentation of artefacts across six archaeological storerooms throughout Egypt.

At the centre of the project is an aim to ensure the preservation for future generations of the knowledge embedded within the artefacts. The focus will therefore be on providing support to Ministry of Antiquities staff to undertake complete documentation of the objects in their care. This will be done through on-the-job training in object photography and cataloguing, led by British Museum photographers and documentation specialists, and by providing support to the trainees in their ongoing documentation activities.

Trainees cataloguing objects

The project will also train registrars in the use and maintenance of a database created by the project to store and manage the resulting object-related data. The registrars will support the trainees in the management of the documentation activities and will also provide sustainability to the project activities by forming a central unit in the Ministry of Antiquities with specialised documentation skills.

Key data on selected archaeological objects will be published online with the aim of creating both an important resource for scholars, as well as a platform for cooperation on the protection of both the information that it holds and the physical artefacts themselves.

The Ministry of Antiquities selected the magazines in Aswan and San el-Hagar and on the third floor of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo to participate in the first year of the programme. Four archaeologists from each of these areas were selected by the British Museum and the Ministry of Antiquities to participate in the training.

Trainees practicing photography on replicas

A five-day workshop on object photography was held for the trainees in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo in October 2015, led by British Museum Chief Photographer John Williams and Senior Photographer Saul Peckham. This was followed by a three-day seminar on digital documentation and object cataloguing led by the British Museum Project Curator Sara Kayser. The training continues on-the-job in their home magazines where they are currently photographing and cataloguing objects on a daily basis.

The Egypt Documentation Project also recruited three registrars from the Ministry of Antiquities to manage the object data and follow-up on the training in situ in the magazine storerooms. They work under the supervision of the Project Curator and in close cooperation with Egyptian Museum registrars, in particular on documentation standards and data management. The project office is currently located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.