On the 7th April 1893, along with the establishment of the Graeco-Roman museum, a group of eminent Alexandrians gathered at the house of Sir Charles Cookson in order to discuss the founding of an archaeological society to raise public awareness and study the city's history and heritage. The new society –that is to be the Archaeological Society of Alexandria - would coordinate research, fund excavations, increase public awareness and generally integrate into the life of the city. Meanwhile, donations of artefacts for the new museum had increased to 4000 pieces, due to the donations of several prominent Alexandrians, such as Glymenopoulos, Prince Toussoun, Zizinia, Harris, Demetriou, Daninos and Antoniadis. The initiative of these noble men is well revealed in the following quote: “These ancient objects belong by right of the Museum of Alexandria, having been found in Egypt and acquired exclusively for science, with money acquired in the same country, as hospitable as celebrated. That’s why in sending them to their destination I consider that I’m not making a gift properly speaking but simply a restitution.” (Efstathios Glymenopoulos, Great Donor of the Greco-Roman Museum) The foundation of the Archaeological Society of Alexandria marks the point, when the preservation and study of Alexandria’s ancient heritage became an important aspect of the identity and lifestyle of the modern city. In fact, another interesting déjà vu takes place, this between the Graeco-Roman Museum and the Archaeological Society, and the ancient Library and Museum, respectively. In both cases, the latter was the repository of knowledge –in the case of the Greco-Roman museum represented by the remnants of the past- and the former was the research institution, responsible to study this precious repository The society was as cosmopolitan and polyglot as the city herself; Prince Omar Toussoun was one of the few exceptions to this, and he served for a long time as the Society’s honorary president. There were British such as Sir Charles Cookson, Admiral Blomfield (the controller of the port), the banker John Reeves; Italians like Giusepe Botti and the architect Manusardi; Swiss like Nourisson; Greeks like the banker George Goussios and Albert Daninos; and Egyptian Jews such as Baron Jaccques de Menasce. The first president was George Goussios who served his position until 1897 when he died in the Greek-Ottoman war. Otherwise the society had British, French, Italian, Greek, Spanish and American presidents, but not an Egyptian one.123 From 1894 to 1898 the Society supported Giuseppe Botti in his explorations at the site of the Sarapeion, work which uncovered several important finds such as the black basalt statue Apis Bull, 123
Reid, 2002, 159-161.