The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) is remarkably active in supporting scholarship, training, and conservation efforts in Egypt. Among ARCE’s many great achievements is our relationship with the Ministry of Antiquities (MOA) (formerly the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)) within the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, without whom our work would not be possible. ARCE is viewed as making important contributions that serve to help Egypt directly in its pursuit of cultural heritage preservation.
Mission and History
Founded in 1948, the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) is a private, nonprofit organization composed of educational and cultural institutions, professional scholars, and private individuals. ARCE's mission is to support research on all aspects of Egyptian history and culture, foster a broader knowledge about Egypt among the general public, and strengthen American-Egyptian cultural ties.
ARCE was formally established in Boston on May 14, 1948, at a meeting presided over by Harvard’s Edward W. Forbes and Archaeological Institute of America President Sterling Dow. It was attended by some of the era’s most distinguished Egyptological scholars and institutional leaders. This meeting was the culmination of a growing sense, in the years immediately following World War II, that there was a great need to establish an official “presence” for North American scholars in Egypt. Although during the early part of the twentieth century, leading American archaeological institutions had conducted major excavations in Egypt, there was no central office in Cairo serving these institutions in their fieldwork or associated research.
ARCE was formally incorporated under the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1950, and the Cairo Center was opened in 1951, using temporary space in a small office within the U.S. Office of Information and Educational Exchange.
The founding members of ARCE understood that in the postwar era, Americans were in urgent need of greater knowledge of the Arab world, of which Cairo was the cultural center, and the Center’s scope soon broadened to cover the study of medieval and modern Egypt as well. At the 1957 annual meeting, Edward Forbes put it thus:
“The trustees of the Center believe that an institution such as the Center, entirely divorced from politics or sectarianism and devoted solely to scholarly aims, is one of the best means of promoting scholarship at home and adding to American prestige abroad; they also believe that it can be an important factor in bringing about a better understanding of the United States in the Middle East, and as such, can be an instrument of peace.” (cited in NARCE, No. 26, December 1957)
Gradually, the Cairo Center began to offer more services to its members and other interested parties, such as producing photographs of significant monuments, helping to find accommodations for visiting members, and hosting a variety of lectures. The 1950s saw considerable political upheaval in Egypt with the 1952 revolution and the 1956 Suez War, but except for a short time in 1956, the ARCE director remained in Cairo.
As the 1950s gave way to the 1960s, ARCE began to develop as a formal institution. Encouraged and aided by the U.S. Department of State, in 1962 ARCE entered into an expanded and more structured consortium, and was charged with managing and distributing over $500,000 yearly in Public Law 480 (Food for Peace) funds. At this time, ARCE also received a “note of recognition” from the Egyptian government, though its scope was limited to “activities in the field of antiquities” by the Ministry of Culture and National Guidance. This scope was later expanded to include research from ancient times to the present.
Scholarship and Fellowships
ARCE serves the academic community by providing critical logistical support to expeditions and research projects. ARCE facilitates research in Egypt by American research institutions. It provides a permanent base in Cairo for scholars studying Egypt from prehistory to the present day. More than a dozen archaeological teams sponsored by leading US universities are assisted annually by our Cairo Center. Such projects include the “state of the art” examination of the tomb of Menna at Luxor.
To further support scholarship, ARCE sponsors fellowships in a variety of fields. Learn more>>
ARCE offers training programs largely for the benefit of Egyptian colleagues in field archaeology, conservation techniques, salvage archaeology, site management, and museum registrar best practices. Our field school for MSA inspectors in salvage archaeology is recording significant historical architectural monuments in Luxor before they are removed to make way for the growing needs of the modern city. Learn more>>
Conservation on the Ground
ARCE has directly participated in the conservation of the almost lost Roman frescos in the Luxor Temple, conservation of our first Medieval Mosque in Cairo (with the assistance of the Aga Khan Foundation), monitoring and conservation work on the East Bank at Luxor centered on the Karnak, Mut, and Luxor temple complexes (with assistance from the MSA, the Franco-Egyptian Center, the Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition, the Johns Hopkins Expedition, and Chicago House). ARCE has constructed a splendid new conservation facility for the use of our colleagues at the MOA. This is the first-ever sole-purpose conservation facility to be constructed on-site in the Luxor complex and is designed to blend with its environment. Learn more>>
ARCE’s Cairo library is an excellent resource for scholars and students, offering 25,000 volumes on Egyptology and other periods of Egyptian history. Learn more>>
Education and Outreach
ARCE sponsors educational opportunities in the United States and Egypt for scholars, students, and the general public. ARCE publishes a scholarly Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, a general audience bi-annual ARCE Bulletin, and ARCE Conservation, an annual publication about ongoing ARCE conservation activities. Learn more about publications>>
An annual conference offers a professional venue for ARCE scholars and students to share their research, and an opportunity for all ARCE members to hear about the latest archaeological activities and scholarly research going on in Egypt. Learn more about the annual meeting>>
Lectures and tours are offered regularly by the ARCE Cairo office and by our 13 U.S.-based affiliated Chapters. Learn more about events>>