Volunteers in white lab coats, surgical gloves and masks stood on the back of a pickup truck on Monday along the banks of the Nile River in Cairo, rummaging through stacks of rare 200-year-old manuscripts that were little more than charcoal debris. The volunteers, ranging from academic experts to appalled citizens, have spent the past two days trying to salvage what's left of some 192,000 books, journals and writings, casualties of Egypt's latest bout of violence.
Institute d'Egypte, a research centre set up by Napoleon Bonaparte during France's invasion in the late 18th century, caught fire during clashes between protesters and Egypt's military over the weekend. It was home to a treasure trove of writings, most notably the handwritten 24-volume Description de l'Egypte, which began during the 1798-1801 French occupation.
The Description of Egypt is likely burned beyond repair. Its home, the two-story historic institute near Tahrir Square, is now in danger of collapsing after the roof caved in.
For more Associated Press
Egyptian Research Institute in Flames: A Napoleonic-era research institute in Cairo caught fire, risking hordes of irreplaceable manuscripts. For more, The Scientist
Egypt riots threaten cultural sites as Cairo library goes up in flames: Experts say among the manuscripts lost are maps of Napoleon's conquest of Egypt in 1798, as well as a map used in the 1989 Israeli withdrawal from Taba . For more: Haaretz
For more on the Description de l'Egypte, see this video: