With Luc Gabolde, Christian Cannuyer, Robert Solé
Conceived by Marie-Cécile Bruwier and Florence Doyen
Monday 29 Avril 2019, from 10.30 to 5.30 pm

Practical Information

As part of Heliopolis, the curators of the exhibition Marie-Cécile Bruwier and Florence Doyen designed a study day that combines architecture, history and urban planning at the Boghossian Foundation.
Luc Gabolde, Christian Cannuyer and Robert Solé, three specialists in Egypt, shed light on the history of this ancient city, the cradle of the new city created by the industrialist Edouard Empain.

The horizon of Ra: the orientation of the temple of Ra-Atum in Heliopolis
Luc Gabolde
Lecture from 10:30 to 12:00 pm

The orientation of the temple of Heliopolis seems to be an unsolvable issue, particularly due to the scarcity of the vestiges and remaining clues. Furthermore, it does not seem self-evident that a calibration on a noteworthy calendar phenomenon such as a solstice could have been possible. Research carried out over the course of two seasons within the Egyptian-German mission in Heliopolis-Matariyeh finally yielded sufficient data to establish the azimuth of Ra-Atum’s temple quite precisely. It then seemed that a link could be established with the story of the foundation of the temple of Heliopolis by Senusret I, as it was transcribed on the Leather scroll of Berlin. Recent findings by A. Ashmawy and D. Raue on the Heliopolis site lead to the discovery of the vestiges of an ancient wall still in place, and helped corroborate this hypothesis.

An expert on the Theban region, Luc Gabolde is the Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the co-director of the Franco-Egyptian Centre for Studies of the Karnak Temples (CFEETK). Using a multidisciplinary approach, Gabolde tackles the issue of the orientation of Egyptian temples in collaboration with astronomers from the Institute for Celestial Mechanics and Computation of Ephemerides (IMCCE). His current programmes of study concern the monuments of Amenhotep I, the atlas of Karnak’s obelisks, and the Eighteenth Dynasty in Saï (Sudan). In addition to giving lectures in Cairo, Geneva and Sydney, his work has been published in Dictionnaire des Dieux, Déesses et Démons, (“Dictionary of Gods, Goddesses and Demons”), the Revue d’Égyptologie (“Egyptology Review”) and the journal Les Cahiers de Karnak.

Coptic traditions relative to the Holy Family’s visit to the Heliopolitan region. Texts, iconography, devotions.
Christian Cannuyer
Lecture from 2 pm to 3:30 pm

The site of Matarieh, close to the ancient holy city of Heliopolis and now located in the northern suburbs of Cairo, was, in the 12th century and until modern times, a place of pilgrimage frequented both by Egyptian Christians – the Copts – and Muslims and Westerners. They came to worship a tree, which is said to have sheltered the Holy Family when they fled to Egypt. It is situated close to a spring and a garden of Torchwood trees, known for their miraculous origins.

Christian Cannuyer was born in Ath in 1957. He has a degree in history and in Oriental History and Philology from UCL; he also has a doctorate in Egyptology from the Lille 3 University. He has taught at the Faculty of Theology at the Lille Catholic University since 1991. He has been the president of the Royal Belgian Society of Oriental Studies since 1994, and is the Director of the Solidarité-Orient organisation, which aims to promote and support the Christian communities of the Near East. He is the author of numerous publications on Copts, the Christians of Egypt.

A little Alexandria
Robert Solé
Lecture from 4 pm to 5:30 pm

The modern city of Heliopolis, created at the very beginning of the twentieth century in the desert north-east of Cairo, was not only a unique model of urbanism and architecture, bringing people from different religions and national origins together, it was also notable for its cosmopolitanism and warmth, even more remarkable than that of her bigger Alexandian sister.

A French writer and journalist of Egyptian origin, Robert Solé was born in Cairo in 1946 and lived in Heliopolis until he was seventeen. He worked at the daily newspaper Le Monde for more than forty years, where he notably was the correspondant in Rome and in Washington, and then became one of the editors-in-chief. He is the author of six novels published at Éditions du Seuil, including Le Tarbouche (1992) and Hôtel Mahrajane (2015). He has also written numerous essays and historical accounts, including L’Égypte, passion française (Seuil), Dictionnaire amoureux de l’Égypte (Plon) and Ils ont fait l’Égypte moderne (Perrin).


Centre for art and dialogue between Eastern and Western cultures
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67
B – 1050 Brussels

Price: 25€
18€ for the members of the Circle of the Villa
12€ for students under 26

In French

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E. info@boghossianfoundation.be
T. +32 2 627 52 30