Egyptian MP Gihane Zaki celebrates bicentenary of deciphering hieroglyphs in Turin

Ahram Online , Monday 17 Oct 2022

Egyptian MP Gihane Zaki participated in the celebration of the bicentenary of the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs by Jean-François Champollion, at Italy's prestigious Turin Academy of Sciences on Saturday.

MP Gihane Zaki


The event dedicated to Champollion was organised by Professor Massimo Moro, the academy’s president,

The Italian press described the event as a celebration of Egyptology, highlighting the quality of the gathering’s panel discussion, in which Zaki participated.

Zaki, who is also a researcher at the CNRS-Sorbonne University in Paris, spoke in Italian at the inaugural session, describing the Egyptian perspective in a talk titled “Champollion... seen by Egyptians.”

Equipped with images from the time and rare Arabic manuscripts, Zaki's talk focused on the political and cultural life of the early 19th century in Egypt and especially the years between the departure of the last scholars of Napoleon Bonaparte's expedition and the arrival of members of the Franco-Tuscan mission in March 1828.

Zaki also spoke of the cultural diversity of Egyptian society at the time between Arabs, Greeks, English, Turks, French and Italians, and confirmed the importance of this backdrop in shaping political life on the shores of the Nile.

She also discussed the establishment of the new discipline of Egyptology in the heart of the country thanks to the efforts of the historian Rifaa El-Tahtawi and the great statesman Ali Mubarak

Afterwards, she touched on the birth of a new form of Egyptian archaeology, which has developed over time to reach its modern form, which is regulated by strong national and international legislation.

The meeting between Mohamed Ali, the Wali of Egypt, and Champollion was also at the center of her speech. She described it as "historic," given the exceptional dialogue between the two men and the diplomatic relationship they skillfully created.

This archaelogical diplomacy – including the sharing of obelisks between France, England and the United States – helped the leader of Egypt counter-balance the authority of the Ottoman Empire, which nominally ruled Egypt at the time, Zaki asserted.

Professor Alessandro Roccati, the great Italian Egyptologist moderated the prestigious panel, which brought together, among others, Christian Greco, the director of the Egyptian Museum of Turin, and Professor Bernard Mathieu, former director of the French Institute of Oriental Archeology (IFAO).

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