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Seventy Years of Polish Archaeology in Egypt


In the history of the University of Warsaw seventy years is a significant period, the more so that the celebration concerns a field of research in which the efforts and persistence of a single scholar, Kazimierz Michałowski, gave our university pioneer status in Poland. The truth of the matter is that Professor Michałowski convinced the University authorities as to the purposefulness of Polish archaeological research in Egypt already in 1934, but it took a few years to gather funds and organize the undertaking before our scholars could actually start excavations in the field. With the exception of World War II and the difficult years that followed, the University of Warsaw has remained a staunch supporter of the work of our archaeologists in Egypt and in my office of Rector of the University of Warsaw I can say responsibly that Polish-Egyptian cooperation in the field of archaeology will continue to develop under the University's auspices.

Kazimierz Michałowski was an outstanding archaeologist and Egyptologist, founder of the so-called Polish school of archaeology and a scholar of world repute. Yet he deserves credit also for what he accomplished as a professor of the University of Warsaw. I have in mind more than just his term in office as Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and one of the University's Vice Presidents in the years immediately following the war. First and foremost, he envisaged and succeeded in establishing the Polish Centre ofMediterranean Archaeology as the University's agenda in Cairo. It is only right that it bears his name today. Thanks to the research carried out by the Centre or to be more precise, by the extensive group of associates representing archeology, anthropology, epigraphy, conservation and related scientific disciplines, we can be proud today of successive achievements by Polish scholars in Egypt. The Old Kingdom tombs of Saqqara, Pharaonic temples of Deir el-Bahari, Graeco-Roman ruins of Marina el-Alamein and Marea, monastic hermitages of Naqlun, and not the least, the auditoria discovered on Kom el-Dikka in Alexandria, have already become part of current scientific knowledge. The dearest tome personally as President is perhaps the last mentioned discovery of a Late Antique academy complex in Alexandria. I amduly proud that archaeologists from the university I have the privilege of representing have thus contributed directly to the uncovering of the oldest known remains of a predecessor of all institutions of higher learning.

Moreover, it is of utmost significance that these and other discoveries are made in close cooperation with Egyptian scholars and the authorities of Egypt's antiquities service. Suffice it to say that without international cooperation there would indeed be no progress in modern research and development. The current celebration of seventy years of Polish archaeological investigations in Egypt is to my mind a pointed expression of the strength of Polish-Egyptian cooperation in the field of archaeology and an excellent prognostic for the future.

As Rector of the University ofWarsaw, I am also very proud to know that a professor of the University, KazimierzMichałowski, will be honored with a bust placed in the gallery of representations of the greatest Egyptologists in the gardens of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. I am deeply grateful to those on the Egyptian side who conceived of the idea and who have worked together in the organization of these commemorative events, which are in essence a celebration of the cooperation between the University of Warsaw and Egyptian archaeological institutions.

Katarzyna Chałasińska-Macukow
Rector, University of Warsaw

(introduction published in an album
Seventy Years of Polish Archaeology in Egypt,
published to commemorate the jubilee)