Napoleon and the Scientific Expedition to Egypt

An exhibition of the Description de l’Egypte (1809-1828) and other rare books documenting the French Expedition to Egypt.


Interior view of the Temple of Hathor, Thebes. Image source: Napoleon I, (Edme-François) Jomard, and Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier. Description de l’Egypte.... Antiquités planches, vol. 2, A Paris: De L’Imprimerie impériale, 1809-1828, pl. 37.

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About this Exhibition

The French expeditionary force that occupied Egypt under Napoleon's command from July 1798 until 1801 included some of France's leading scientists. While in Egypt, the scientists recorded investigations on natural history, archaeology, physical geography, technology, weights and measures, hydrography, meteorology, chemistry, medicine, and other aspects of Egyptian culture and environment. 

Their work was published on returning to France as the Description de l'Égypte, in volumes of truly monumental dimensions, with beautiful engraved plates. 

This Website is an online version of an exhibition that was on display at the Linda Hall Library from October 2006 through April 2007. It features illustrations from the Library’s copy of the Description de l'Égypte, along with other rare books that document the French Expedition to Egypt. All of these books are from the History of Science Collection of rare books at the Linda Hall Library.