Safeguarding Egyptian Cultural Heritage through Preservation, Conservation and Digitisation

This eight day course, hosted between 23 November and 2 December, within the historic Prince Mohammed Ali Palace, Cairo and delivered online, globally, is produced in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Egypt Exploration Society. It is sponsored by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Covering a wide spectrum of codicology preservation, conservation, and digitisation with reference to documents from the late antique period onwards, this programme is designed, primarily, for museum and library professionals based in Egypt who are seeking to expand their knowledge and skill set.

The participating tutors are Kamila Makram, Ilana Tahan, Adrien de Fouchier, Georgios Boudalis, Alberto Campagnolo, Marta Grimaccia, Alexia Melianou, Francois Vinourd, Giovanni Pagani, Marta Filippini, and Dalia Nabawy.


Children and Family Pilot

Sponsored by the British Council Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport

Tutors: Alexia Melianou and Elizabeth Sobczynski

Location: Deir al-Surian Library

The purpose of this pilot scheme was to deepen and extend the knowledge of Egyptian Cultural Heritage understood and experienced by children living within the environs of the Deir al-Surian Monastery.

On Friday, 22 November a group of 21 children from two local schools in Wadi el-Natrun and three schools in al Sadad City in Cairo attended a workshop organised by the Foundation as part of its 2019 outreach programme supported by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund. The children, aged 9-12, were accompanied by a parent, making a total of 42 attendees.

The Programme included a range of inspiring subjects including the history of the Deir al-Surian library, the craft of writing, early writing materials, and decorations in Coptic manuscripts. During a practical workshop, each child made their own take-away bound, decorated, book, ready for a classroom display.

The aim of the programme was to develop a basic understanding of the book form, to engage the children and local community with the Deir Al-Surian collection, and to introduce them to its historic importance.


Improving Skills and Management Collection Care in Monastic Libraries in Egypt

This programme was sponsored by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and took place in the Deir al-Surian Library, Wadi el-Natrun, under the guidance of conservators Giovanni Pagani, Elizabeth Sobczynski, and Francois Vinourd.

Four separate training opportunities were offered to monks caring for monastic collections during the May and November Conservation Field Campaigns at Deir Al-Surian.

The training hub, established in the library of Deir Al-Surian, allowed the monks to gain specific skills, knowledge, and experience in the following areas: 

  1. Collection management: how to successfully manage a collection digitally, and understanding the significance of cataloguing
  2. Preservation methodology and improving conservation skills:understand the methods used to conserve monastic collections and learn conservation basics, including treatments to prevent further damage to paper and parchment
  3. Introduction to ethics of collection care, practical information about housekeeping and refurbishment of books 
  4. Introduction to ethics of conservation: learn about judgment  and treatment justification 
  5. Importance of sharing, creating dialogue and developing outreach activities in order tounderstand the purpose of conservation and the significance of the collection.

From the pool of the Deir al-Surian applicants, three monks with relevant skills demonstrated a clear interest in cultural heritage and were selected to learn more about collection care and conservation. This training was delivered in partnership with the head librarian, Fr. Amoon, through four 3-hour interactive training modules, which focused on one of the history of the library; the study of Syriac, Coptic and Byzantine bindings; collection management and the practicalities of rudimentary treatment of paper folia. 

By attending these training sessions, the monks learned more about the significance of the monastery, technicalities of conservation work, and how to effectively provide practical support to Fr. Amoon in the running and management of the collection. 

Additionally, we held a workshop in the monastery so that monks from other monasteries had the opportunity to come and learn about Deir al-Surian’s heritage and practical approaches to its collections’ preservation. We are pleased to announce that nine monks from monasteries in the Western Desert as well as St. Paul monastery on the Red Sea attended the course. 

Through these training exercises, we have successfully shared our purpose and work with monks from various monasteries and achieved our goals of sharing the significance of Deir Al-Surian and the collection we are conserving, as well as how to continue to preserve in years to come.


Programme in Museology and Conservation

The National Library & Archives 

The Ministry of Antiquities

Location: Cairo

To view the Training Programme (view the PDF)

To view photographs from the 2012 Training Programme, please visit the following link

The 2012 Training Programme in Paper and Book Conservation was organised in partnership with Leiden University and was a follow up to a very successful 2010 programme for professionals from the leading museums, libraries and monastic collections in Egypt. The programme was supported by the Sawiris Foundation for Social Development. It was hosted by the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the National Library & Archives of Egypt.

The aim of the Programme was to educate museum personnel to be able to handle their own conservation needs in order to be less dependent of foreign support. We proposed to widen their understanding about the history and technology of the Coptic and Islamic book and to update their knowledge in modern requirements of conservation. There are relatively few opportunities for museum professionals in Egypt to refresh their skills and update their knowledge of developments in museology and conservation. The Levantine Foundation bespoke 2nd Programme was to meet this training need.


Programme in Museology and Conservation

The National Library & Archives 

The Ministry of Antiquities

Location: Cairo

In 2010 The Levantine Foundation delivered a hugely successful training programme in Museology and Conservation organised in partnership with The University of Leiden, The Supreme Council of Antiquities, and The National Library & Archives of Egypt.

The course, consisting of four strands, was generously sponsored by The Sawiris Foundation for Social Development.

Lectures and practical workshops were developed to provide training and technical support for museum professionals and graduates in conservation/restoration from the leading museums and universities in Cairo. It was open to everyone who was then employed by a public institution or seeking employment in public or private sector.


Pilot Project, Coptic Museum, Cairo

The pilot, which was generously hosted by the Coptic Museum took place in March 2009. It was attended by thirty curators, librarians, and conservators from the Coptic, Egyptian, and Islamic Museums, in addition to the Manial Palace, along with librarians and custodians of the monastic collections. The two-week programme was divided into museology and conservation and it addressed issues such as historical connections and artistic interactions between Christians and Muslims, Western museum practices, and a practical workshop on the conservation of parchment material.

The participating tutors were:

Christopher Clarkson ARCA, Dr Helen C Evans,  Dr. Kamilia. M. Gerges,  Dr Mattheus Immerzeel, Professor Jonathan Ashley-Smith, Dr Ezzat H Salib, and Elizabeth Sobczynski ARC MIPC.