German Archaeological Institute
Cairo Department
31, Abu el-Feda
11211 Cairo-Zamalek

Logo from the early years © DAIThe Archive of the German Archaeological Institute Cairo, which is kept in an air-conditioned room on the ground floor, primarily comprises the files of the Institute predating 1966, the Keimer-Archive and some material compiled by Ahmed Fakhry. For the time being, the Archive is not accessible to the general public.

1. Files of the Institute (1899-1966)

Following the re-establishment of the Institute in 1957 Hanns Stock, then director, sought to reclaim the former inventory of the pre-war Institute. Research into the details of this undertaking is still in progress.
The files in Cairo were supplemented by some further material dating from later years than 1966. They were listed successively together with the files in Berlin for a first virtual union before the complete entry of the Archive’s inventory began in 2009. By the beginning of the year 2012, all this material had been provisionally registered in an Excel-list.

The Archive’s inventory of old files comprises approximately:

  • 48,000 to 55,000 pages of text
  • in 87 acid-free boxes
  • in 534 folders
The Archive's inventory © DAI


The sorting of the files into categories, according to the newly introduced system of the Archive, reflects the type of information users might expect to garner from the material:

  • Borchardt’s communiqués to the commission for the publication of the Woerterbuch der Ägyptischen Sprache
  • Correspondence – of commercial, official, and scholarly nature
  • Excavations and expeditions
  • Documents relating to other institutions, collaborators as well as competitors, e.g., the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, the Institut Français, the Service des Antiquités or the Papyruskartell
  • Documents regarding the history of the German Institute in Egypt, such as those concerning the ‘German House’ at Thebes


Plan sketch by L. Borchardt, 1909 © DAI

Digitising the Archive’s files

The project to digitise the archival material held at the German Institute in Cairo began in March 2012. The scanning of the files will benefit preservation and research, ultimately enabling publication on the Internet, in accordance with the principles of “Digital Humanities”, in response to the growing interest in the history of Egyptology as a scholarly discipline as reflected in an increasing number of publications.
Initially, material from the pre-World War II years was digitised, primarily:

  • Damaged files
  • Photographs
  • iles with particular relevance to Cluster 5 Research into the history of the German Archaeological Institute

2. Keimer-Archive

Since 1957 the German Archaeological Institute Cairo holds in addition to the library the scholarly estate of Ludwig Keimer (1892-1957) which is accessible through a card catalogue and an internal database.

The Archive comprises:

  • Keimer’s own publications (more than 200 items)
  • pproximately 550 books dealing with natural sciences, especially zoology, botany, geology and anthropology as well as medical-pharmaceutical literature
  • approximately 300 publications of Max Meyerhof (1874-1945), oculist, orientalist, arabist
  • Keimer’s extensive reference books, the "Konvolute"

Ludwig Keimer (1892-1957) in his office © DAI


Already back in 1959, Erik Hornung who was then one of the Institute’s research associates, took a first look at the reference works. Heinz Herzer compiled a still unpublished bibliography of Keimer’s works and the anthropologist Rudolf Herzog was mainly engaged with the material about the Bisharin tribe. In 1966 Gisela Kircher, a temporary associate for Islamic studies, started a new revision and published her results in the Institute’s annual MDAIK 25, 1969, S. 33-48 [PDF, 2.34 MB] entitled "Zum Keimer-Nachlaß im DAI Kairo".
She arranged the entire material into 176 big sized wooden cases, the so called "Konvolute", and provided tables of contents. They include bibliographical notes of Keimer, handwritten drafts of articles, excerpts, illustrations, drawings and photographs as well as many newspaper cuttings of Egyptian and foreign press and related correspondence.

Parts of the material will be presented to a broader public in the Institute’s new serial „Menschen - Reisen - Forschungen: Wissenschaftsgeschichte aus Ägypten“. The first, richly illustrated volume, published at the end of 2011 as „Westcar on the Nile: a journey through Egypt in the 1820s“ by Heike C. Schmidt represents the first commented edition of Henry Westcar’s diary from Konvolut 139.
In preparation are publications on Heinrich Schäfer, whose entire diary „Tagebuch einer Nubienreise“ (Konvolut 138) is meanwhile available, as well as the diary of Max Meyerhof (Keimer-Mey 290) with his cousin Otto Meyerhof from November 1900 until April 1901, a biography of Ludwig Keimer and more.
Diary of Max Meyerhof (1874-1945) during his journey to Egypt 1900-1991 © DAI

3. Fakhry-Papers

The material of Egyptologist Ahmed Fakhry (1905-1973) consists mainly of photographs from the years 1934 until 1973. Of the approximately 2,000 photographs, glued on file cards or loose in folders, envelopes or in folded sheets with handwritten titles, about one-fifth is published by himself. In addition there are some manuscripts, notebooks and letters. The digitising is not yet completed.

4. Further reading

  • T. Gertzen, Die Digitalisierung der Altakten des DAI, Kairo, in: Kemet 3.2012, in print
  • T. Gertzen, Die Digitalisierung der Altakten und „Fragen an das Institut“ – Ausgesuchte wissenschaftliche Korrespondenzen aus den Archiven des DAI Kairo, in: Göttinger Miszellen, 2012, in preparation
  • I. Lehnert, Was Bücher erzählen: Die Bibliothek des Instituts und die Schätze des Ludwig Keimer, in: G. Dreyer/D. Polz (Eds.), Begegnung mit der Vergangenheit. 100 Jahre in Ägypten, 2007, pp. 16-24
  • I. Lehnert, "Vom heiligen Feuer wissenschaftlicher Neugierde durchglüht": Zum 50. Todestag des Ägyptologen Ludwig Keimer (1892-1957), in: Antike Welt 38/6, 2007, pp. 60-62
  • I. Lehnert, Vier Mann in einem Boot - Tagebuch einer Nubienfahrt, in: MDAIK 65, 2009 (2010), pp. 253-270
  • I. Lehnert, Giant of Egyptology – Ludwig Keimer (1892-1957), in: KMT 23,1, 2012, pp. 74-77
  • I. Lehnert, A Thousand and One Books: the early travel literature of Ludwig Keimer, in: D. Fortenberry (Ed.): Souvenirs and new ideas. Travel and Collecting in Egypt and the Near East. Oxford 2013: pp. 80-97

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The German Archaeological Institute (DAI) is a »scientific corporation« of the Federal Institution under the auspices of the Foreign Office. The staff of the Institute carries out research in the area of archaeology and in related fields and maintains relations with international scholars.
Furthermore, it organizes congresses, colloquia and tours, and informs the public through the media about its work.  

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