EGYPTOLOGY IN URUGUAY
HELLO! Let me introduce myself so that I can talk to you
about a group of people in a small country who had a dream...
and are trying to make it happen !
Prof. Juan José Castillos
Director of the Uruguayan Institute of Egyptology
The Uruguayan Society and Institute of Egyptology
In 1980 a group of Uruguayans founded the Uruguayan Society of Egyptology with the purpose of the accurate popularization of the facts concerning one of the most wonderful civilizations in the history of mankind. Before 1980 all that the public knew about the subject was what was found in books from different sources (some reliable and others not so much) and the little that was taught in local institutions. It is easy to understand that all sorts of strange theories and interpretations flourished unchecked bringing confusion to the unsuspecting readers who did not have at the time where to turn for the actual facts, as brought forward by reliable scholars. Given the distinguished cultural tradition of the country, some Uruguayans felt it was time to do something about this sad situation.
The success that we had in our work was more than we expected. Lectures were regularly delivered all over the country, where audiences of up to 300 people showed the eagerness to know more about ancient Egypt. An exhibition of modern and ancient Egyptian art organized in cooperation with the local Egyptian Embassy attracted over 50,000 people and we had numerous visitors in search of information, many of them bringing along ancient objects that their relatives had many years ago brought with them from visits to Egypt. Since a great number of them were authentic and were generously donated to us, together with a small selection of good reproductions of famous ancient Egyptian works of art, we opened to the public in 1984 a small Egyptian Museum which is currently visited by many people including busloads of students from local private and public schools. Also in 1984, and bearing in mind the interest our work had generated, we founded the Uruguayan Institute of Egyptology, where Uruguayans can graduate with a Diploma in Egyptology after four years of study, passing their exams and writing a thesis on any egyptological subject. We have had 25 - 30 new members every year and about 25 students currently work with great difficulty towards their Diploma. Regular study trips to Egypt accompanied by some of their professors give them a better understanding of conditions in that country and prepare the way for future possible archaeological work there.
The courses range from Archaeology, History of the Ancient Near East, Ancient Egyptian History, Art, Religion, Literature and Science and Technology, Egyptian Language, etc. to mandatory courses on modern languages such as English, French and German. We are a non-profit institution that does not receive any grants or financial help from any official or private source, except for the very small fees paid by the Members of about U$S 100 per year, which go for the operational expenses of the institution. Our teaching staff work on an honorary basis as a generous contribution to Uruguayan culture. We have been publishing a learned Journal, the Revista de la Sociedad Uruguaya de Egiptología (RSUE) which has punctually appeared every year since 1984, printed with very modest means, including papers from local and foreign scholars and the best papers presented to the Annual Egyptological Contests that we have been organizing in order to stimulate interest in our science among local students and scholars.
In all this work a number of Uruguayans have devoted many hours of their time without any material compensation to the success of this project, among them we feel it is only fair to name at least a few who have shown an exceptional dedication over the years: Augusto C. Rondán (deceased), Dr. Alberto Bianchi (deceased), Antonio Muniz, Ricardo García, Dr. Alberto Galasso, Jorge Casariego, Oscar Patrón, Víctor Capuchio, Daniel Luongo, Sylvia Roig, Alicia di Gregorio, among many others.
Some of the books donated by our sister Society, the Egypt Exploration Society of London, United Kingdom
During the ceremony at the British Embassy in Montevideo, we see from left to right, Dr. A. Galasso, Dr. A. Bianchi, Cap. (Av.) A. Rondán and Prof. J. J. Castillos, Members of the Board of the Uruguayan Society of Egyptology, the then Egyptian Ambassador, M. El-Diwany and the British Ambassador, D. Lamont (now Governor of the Falkland Islands) who is reading his speech representing the Egypt Exploration Society
In all these projects we have had the continued moral support of the local Egyptian Embassy as well as that of most of the local newspapers, radio and television which helped make our activities known to all interested parties and of much more favoured sister institutions such as the Egypt Exploration Society and the British Museum in the UK, Ben-Ben publications of Toronto, Canada, The University of Chicago and the Metropolitan Museum of New York in the US and the Turin Museum in Italy. The Egypt Exploration Society, for instance, donated in 1992 about U$S 5,000 in valuable egyptological publications we would have been otherwise unable to obtain.
The Uruguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs instructed their Embassy in Cairo to forward us clippings of all articles in the Egyptian press which might be of use to us.
Although we are fortunate enough to have our own premises, the local Ministry of Education has supplied their large lecture halls to provide a better environment when we have had foreign colleagues visiting us.
The subjects we are mostly interested in right now and which are the ones our people is doing research on are: ancient Egyptian religion, language, computers and Egyptology, paleopathology and the Egyptian Predynastic.
You can visit our other pages in the Internet at the following locations:
URUGUAYAN SOCIETY OF EGYPTOLOGY -CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR SOCIETY'S PAGE
URUGUAYAN INSTITUTE OF EGYPTOLOGY -CLICK HERE TO VISIT OUR INSTITUTE'S PAGE
PUBLICATIONS OF THE URUGUAYAN SOCIETY OF EGYPTOLOGY -CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LIST OF SOCIETY PUBLICATIONS
EGYPTOLOGICAL PUBLICATIONS BY J. J. CASTILLOS -CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LIST OF J. J. CASTILLOS´ PUBLICATIONS
EGYPTOLOGICAL PUBLICATIONS BY A. BIANCHI -CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LIST OF A. BIANCHI´S PUBLICATIONS
We will welcome any inquiries, comments, or sharing of information on our rich experience here on building a cultural institution from practically nothing, with much effort and willingness to learn and do things rather than just talking about them... For the purpose, you can write to us or call or fax or email us using the information we are giving below.
Address: 4 de Julio 3068 Montevideo CP 11600 URUGUAY
Telephone Number: (598 - 2) - 628 0743
Fax Number: (598 - 2) - 622 5352
EMAIL:J. J. Castillos
This is our home, visit us whenever you like !