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Gaston Maspero writes to Lannoy de Bissy, 12-05-18862017-06-06T11:10:07+00:00

Between May 1885 and December 1886, Gaston Maspero and Richard de Régnauld de Lannoy de Bissy exchanged at least four letters, concerning a map, de Bissy had apparently made of Egypt and that Bissy wanted to have presented to “Doctor Schweinfurth” (Probably Georg Schweinfurth).

Here is a Letter from May 12th, 1886, in which Maspero suggests some other spellings for names of cities and places, as well as to add some (apparently for Maspero) important places.

Boulaq, May 12th, 1886

Boulaq, 12 May 1886


I presented Doctor Schweinfurth with a copy of the map of Egypt that you had sent me for his attention. I have examined at length my own copy, and I think that there is no better way to thank you but to point out a few minor errors that I noticed in the parts that I am familiar   with.


Sheet no 8 : Tell el Mahoutah. The name is Tell elMaskhoutah, the hill of the statue. The reading Tell el Mahoutah comes from the fact that the English officer who transcribed the map of Mahmoud Pasha did not know very well how to decipher Arabic. In Tell el- elongee01 outah with the elongated elongee he did not recognise the elongee which he probably only saw under the form elongee03 and he read Tell el Maẖoutah instead of Tell el-Mashoutah or Tell el Maskhoutah.

Im-Sembelaouin- Read Es-Senbellaouïn or Senbellaouin without an article. To some distance indicate the site of Tmeï-el-Amdid, the ancient Mendès, which has become very important thanks to the excavations of those last few years.

Zifti. Read Ziftèh or Ziftah

Damjahèh. Read Setté- Damianèh.

Indicate Sakha, today a large industrial village, more important than those you indicate in the same region, Kafr el-Cheikh, Biyalà, Bittag, etc.

Between Tantah and Benha, the station of Tell-Sahâ or Tell es-Sab.

Between Kafr el-Zayat and Damanhour, the important station of Itaï el-Baroud, at the beginning of the railway line of Upper Egypt.

Why El-Ramleh et Er-riyèchét. If we assimilate the article in one case, we should assimilate it in all cases.

Er-rahmaniyèn. Read Er-rahmaniyeh.

To the south of Cairo, just north of Helwan, indicate the quarries of Tura and Masarah.

Next to the ruins of Memphis, write the names of Bédrécheïn and Saqqarah.

Between Helwan and El-Ouasta, you forgot the important station of El-Ayat.

El- Mèsandèh. In the country it is El-Mékandèh

Next to Atfih or Atfièh, the large village of Rikka el-Kébir

In the Fayum Ebgîg and especially Abouksa, the most important station of the Daïrah Sanièh.

On the Nile, Maghaga with its factory

To the west of Beni Suef on the Bahr Yussef, the large town of Ahnas el-Medineh

Sheet 14 – Abu Djirdjèh – read Abu-Girg

El-Keo ? – El-Kes ( ?)

Salamout – Samallout

Indicate to the north of Minieh on the other side of the river Deir el-Bakarah, the convent of the pulley.

Next to Rodah, the two factories of Raramon and Ghalandoul, and the town of Eschmouneïn, Cheikh-Abadèh.

Derout is not located correctly. Between Derout and Manfalout, indicate along the Nile, Gebel Abu-Fedah, the highest mountain of Egypt on that side. Slightly to the north of the mountain, Tell-Amarna.

Ebmou- read Ebnoub

Béné Adin – Béné Adi. The locality has no interest.

In the bend of the Nile, before Siout, Mankabat.

South of Siout, instead of Dromla, read Dronkah or Drongah

Instead of Chindaoum, read Chindaouïn

Instead of Saouagui, read Sohag

Instead of Ekhmîn, Ikhmîn or Akhmîm

Instead of Beilanèh, Bellianèh

Instead of El-Kerbèh, El-Kherbèh

Instead of El-Kasr, El-Kasr-es-sayad

What is the- Deir ? the form of the name is not arabic

Next to Rizgat, or Rezqat, Erment, the most important factory of Upper Egypt

Instead of Agfoun, read Asfoun

Instead of El Redoièh, read El-Radésièh or El Rédesièh

Instead of El-Kalèh (N) read El-Kab

Instead of Pimban, read Bimban

Kom-Ombo and not Ombos

Djebel-Silsilèh, for Çelçily

Kabanièh is twice for the same place

Finally, the Moudirièhs  are incorrectly located – Siout  extends  until only the north of Tahtah. Girgeh or Sohag starts from Tahtah to El-Haram and El-Abdièh. Keneh extends from El-Abdieh to Luxor (included.) Esneh extends from Luxor (excluded) to Ouady-Halfah.

There are probably other mistakes to point out : I am only indicating those that I have noted in the areas that I know. I know how difficult it is to find one’s way in those arabic names, especially since Lissant and the others have spelt them in a terrible way. The publication of the Egyptian statistics in Arabic and in French by Boinet (1885-1886) will always give the correct spelling.

Yours sincerely,

Gaston Maspero's signature.

Source of the Letter: Bibliothèque nationale de France

Translation: Sylvie Weens