Towards a quadruple birthday

The year 2022 will be marked by the bicentenary of the decipherment of hieroglyphs by Jean-François Champollion, the 125th anniversary of the birth of Belgian Egyptology, the centenary of the discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and the 75th anniversary of the death of Jean Capart.

These commemorations will have a special resonance in Belgium because, if Champollion may be regarded as the spiritual godfather of Capart, it is the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, and the first visit of Capart there in the company of Elisabeth, the Queen of the Belgians, that led to the foundation of the Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth in 1923.

The Fondation Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth (today the Association Égyptologique Reine Élisabeth) – based at the Cinquantenaire Museum – is a non-profit organization designed to promote Egyptology in Belgium. From 1923 to 1947, it was led in a fairly paternalistic manner by Jean Capart, who also imbued it with exceptional dynamism. For several decades, the association contributed to make the Library of the Antiquity department of the Royal Museums of Art and History – of which the personal library of Capart forms the core – into one of the richest libraries in the world for the fields of Egyptology and papyrology. The association holds photographic archives on Egypt, participates in excavations in the Nile Valley, organizes lectures and exhibitions, etc. It publishes numerous works, and twice a year it puts out one of the most renowned scientific journals, the Chronique d’Égypte. One century after its creation, its members diligently continue the work begun by Jean Capart.