Half Way There

I have just realized that we have just about hit the half way point in my time as a CCEPS Fellow. While we have have finished a great deal of the IAC Collection there remains a great amount of details that need to be addressed before the collection is ready to be used by researchers. I am currently in the midst of placing everything in the proper order and preparing to write up a good finding aid for the collection. Now that I have raced you through the technical side of archiving, I can bring you to the interesting bits and pieces of history.

These small pieces of history that I have shown you are all found within the plain white boxes that adorn my work station. Last week I gave the story of Muhammad Ali, discoverer of the Codices, and that the story was incomplete. After a bit of research I was able to uncover more of his story and the reasons for which his mother burned one of the books. It seems after they were found, Ali and his brother had just placed them on some hay next to the over. Ali’s mother simply used the book as kindling for fire since the family was completely unaware of the significance of their find. While the story of Ali and his family is compelling, I would like to move on to other characters in this world. 
In several pictures that I came across, I found prominent individuals visiting the small town of Nag Hammadi. These dignitaries and scholars alike came to the Coptic Museum after it was brought into the Egyptian National Museum system of support and protection. Of the most recognizable names was Boutros Boutros-Gahli, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs for Egypt and former Secretary General of the UN, who is also a Coptic Orthodox Christian. Unfortunately, the picture of him is only a poor photo copy as the original is in a different collection. Not to disappoint my readers, I have included a couple other pictures that garner the same interest at previous ones I have attached. 
Here is a picture of the Queen of Denmark making a visit in 1962 to the Coptic Museum in Nag Hammadi.

Why Danish royalty would visit a Coptic Museum is beyond my knowledge! But I will probably do some proper research should time allow. 
Next, is a picture of the Minister of the Imperial Court of Egypt. The name on the back of the photo is illegible and several attempts at Google resulted in nothing. However, that should not stop one from imaging what is being said at the moment.
I could easily pepper in more pictures, but that would just be irresponsible as I have yet to discovering the interesting stories behind them. One of those is a picture of a banner honoring then President of France, Giscard, and Anwar El-Sadat of Egypt. Once I know what is going on, I will surely pass that knowledge down to you! Just remember, big historical events are only the tip of the iceberg and the remaining pieces could be found in plain white boxes. 

Mapping the Area



Next up is a box of maps and drawings from the archeological expeditions to Nag Hammadi. Inside we found maps of the general area, hand-drawn guides to the dig site, and (in a separate tube) a satellite image of the area. I’ve never been on an archeological dig but from what I’ve seen mapping has got to be a key component.


We’ve put materials relating to the dig into their own series, which contains these maps, field notes, photographs, audio tapes, and correspondence. The expeditions are divided into seasons that span from 1976 until 1980, when it seems their funding ended.


It’s difficult to tell just from the labels, but I suspect the tapes are interviews from the dig. Some are labeled Mohammed Ali, and I’m curious if this is the same Mohammed that originally discovered the codices. Jason has mentioned this story in his posts, it could be that the tapes contain Ali’s complete account. Maybe we’ll come across some information on these tapes as we continue processing this week! Until next time – 

– Sara





It’s so nice to see everything all neat and ordered like this, isn’t it? Too bad that was the easy part, this collection has a lot of oversized maps and a multitude of photos, slides, negatives, index cards, and audio tapes. I’m not complaining though, the IAC was host to amazing artifacts and projects, and not just from the Nag Hammadi dig:


Most of last week was spent going through the photos – since we’re going to have to sleeve them we need to break the folders apart into small chunks. Fortunately the IAC photos are pretty organized already and it hasn’t been hard to group them up. Besides documenting the museum’s holdings, the IAC photos cover special events, guest visits, and the staff through the years. The expedition to Nag Hammadi is of course a large part of the collection, but the IAC was host to many interesting people and artifacts.


This week I’ll be finishing up a new crate of photos, getting all the newspaper clippings quarantined, and getting to work on the maps and blueprints. Stay tuned for Series 2, the records from the archeological expeditions to Nag Hammadi.



Rainy Day Files

Hello Again!

Well, another week has passed and I am still in disbelief of
how quickly the days go by. This week is starting off with rain trickling down
the windows of the library but I am looking through the window of history today!
(Please excuse the cheesy cliché) As promised, I have a couple of interesting
snapshots of the hundreds of pictures I have been combing through. Most
recently I have been reorganizing the series on the Nag Hammadi dig and the
surrounding work involved in such a monumentally historic project. This had
included everything from field logs of the dig sites, pictures of the
surrounding towns and landscape, and a plethora of amazing records documenting
the whole process.

Going through this series in the IAC Nag Hammadi Collection
has afforded me the opportunity to see a different time and place through the
eyes of both the locals and scholars involved with the excavation and scholarly

One of the amazing photos included in the series are of the
discoverer of the codices, Muhammad Ali and his mother. 

Ali standing next to his mother (dressed in black). 

Thumbnail image for IMG_2907.JPG

The mother of Ali had actually burned one of the codex books upon their initial discovery. Unfortunately, there was no other information on
the reasons for his mother burning one of the books but one can just imagine
what was going through the minds of the IAC scholars upon hearing this story!

And as I mentioned in one of my previous posts I am
including just one picture of Henry Kissinger from his tour of the Nag Hammadi
Codices. He is intently studying pages of ancient texts while members of the
project explain what is written and the significance to ancient Christianity.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for IMG_2906.JPG

There are pieces of history hidden all around us and it is
up to us, historians and others alike, to document that history so others have
the opportunity to look through the window of the past. 

The IAC Files

So we are still moving along with the IAC and Nag Hammadi expedition files – this past week we’ve really made progress with the administrative stuff and are finding some really cool stuff in the collection. Jason found a picture of Henry Kissinger picking his nose in the file about his visit to the IAC, and while I didn’t find anything quite so tabloid-ready there have been some very interesting finds!

The IAC has extensive photographs from over the years, among these are photos of the various artifacts that came to their museum. There are many examples of antiquarian coinage that makes you want to jazz up U.S. currency some. More snarling lions, mermaids and owls! It looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time with these photographs, putting them in sleeves and getting them organized. We’ve also got maps to measure and newspapers, slides, and audio lectures to itemized, so plenty left to go. Next week I’ll have some photos up of those coins and anything else I find, maybe I’ll come across my nose-pickin’ Kissinger.



Time Flies By

Something that we tend to forget about time is that it can slip right by you when not paying attention. Paying attention to time is all I have been doing while processing the IAC Nag Hammadi collection. But not in the same way that people do while sitting in a classroom or at work. I have been paying close attention to the time that has been captured inside of these files and boxes. 

This past week I have been processing the IAC’s museum records. The files contained item lists for all things that were once displayed, including the famous Dead Sea Scrolls. It was a featured exhibit here on the Claremont Colleges campus on June 12, 1965. The tremendous amount of work that went into making the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibits a possibility for the public to see. This included the shipment of materials to Claremont and the delicate process of unpacking priceless materials and to present them in a non-objective manner. The entire exhibit was considered an incredible success with over 1,700 people visiting on the first day alone and a total of 51,852 persons for the whole time. A memo was drafted that gave an amazingly detailed report of everything that went on; including the very few complaints and numerous praises from museum goers, a trip to Disneyland for the Curator of the Palestine Archaeological Museum, and praise for the LA County Sheriffs who were able to handle the large crowds in the summer heat with a smile. 
Another interesting find within the Museum records was a piece of cloth. Now this is no ordinary piece of cloth that we would wear. It was a piece of cloth that wrapped the Nag Hammadi codices, meaning it is nearly two thousand years old. The small piece (now pieces) was placed in an Egyptian newspaper with Arabic writing on it. Now there is quite a bit of cloth dust as much of it has disintegrated due to the long passage of time that the lack of preservation efforts. My part is to now find what to do with this random material from a time I have only read about in books. I am excited to see where this all goes!
Thanks for reading!

First Insight

My first
week as a CCEPS fellow has ended as quickly as my second week begins and what a
week it has been so far! The enthusiasm I have for this work is a benchmark by
how I will be continuing through the weeks until my time here is up. What I
have learned so far and what I still have to learn excite me beyond the words
necessary to write a short blog. Lessons learned in my Archives 310 class last
year are now being applied, tested, and refined through the incredible
opportunity of processing a collection first hand. This collection in
particular, the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Records, have been
fascinating so far, especially the level of details and records that came with
the Nag Hammadi collection. It is an amazing collection of correspondence,
pictures, maps, and lectures that all describe in remarkable detail the efforts
of many to make these ancient texts come to life for dignitaries and normal people
alike to enjoy. In one of the dozens of picture folders that I went through, I
found an impressive set of photographs showing the visit of one dignitary to
the small world of Claremont. That individual was Henry Kissinger, captured in a
candid moment that made it seem as though he were picking his nose. This
contrast of this imposing world figure and the candid nature of a man looking
at a museum exhibit is exactly what makes me extremely happy and thankful to be
a CCEPS fellow and for the ability to find the extraordinary hidden in the
files of archival collections.