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Egyptian Research Institute in Flames

A Napoleonic-era research institute in Cairo caught fire, risking hordes of irreplaceable manuscripts.

By | December 20, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS, LIN KRISTENSEN

Egypt’s oldest research institute caught fire as a result of clashes between police and political protesters near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Sunday (December 18).

The Institut d’Egypte was founded in 1798 by Napoleon, and contains tens of thousands of irreplaceable manuscripts, largely from the 19th century. Among the documents housed there is the Description de l'Egypt, which contains some of the oldest illustrations of ancient Egyptian monuments and antiquities.

Right now, there’s no way to know how much damage the fire caused. The National Library and Archives is spearheading a rescue effort, and so far, at least 35,000 manuscripts have been removed from the building. The condition of these documents is unknown, ScienceInsider reported.

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