Library and archives

The Museum's Egyptian and Sudanese collections, among the most important of their kind in the world, are underpinned by the library of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, which ranks among the top five libraries for Egyptology worldwide.

The departmental library has been in existence since around 1860. Its stock enables research into all aspects of Ancient Egyptian and Sudanese cultures (prehistoric, pharaonic, Hellenistic, Roman and Late Antique Egypt and the contemporary eras in Nubia). The collection comprises 24,000 library items, the oldest of which was published in 1636.

The oldest book in the collection, published in 1636

The library has a particularly strong collection of older material (including journals going back to the nineteenth century), museum and exhibition catalogues (around 2,400 items), auction catalogues, and the Nubia and Sudan section. Special collections include the Rare Book Collection, Pamphlet Collection and the Roxie Walker Collection (books on Bioarchaeology). The library also houses over 200 runs of journals, of which 80 are current.

The departmental library is a non-lending library. It is used primarily by British Museum staff, participants of the International Training Programme, and students, scholars and international researchers who are working on the department's collection of objects. It is also accessible to those who are seriously researching the Ancient Egyptian and Sudanese cultures. 

Appointments should be made through the librarian.

Since its move in 2001 the library has been accommodated in the Study room, which is the dynamic heart of the department and an integral part of its public-service provision.

The generous support of the library by Ahmed and Ann el-Mokadem is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Researchers in the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan Study Room.
  • The oldest book in the collection, Athanasius Kircher's Prodromus coptus sive aegyptiacus, was published in 1636. It includes the first Coptic grammar published in the West. It is on display in the Enlightenment gallery (Room 1).