The Centre d’Études Alexandrines (CEAlex) was founded in 1990 by Jean-Yves Empereur with the support of the CNRS (RCP 403), the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IFAO. On 1 January 1999, the CNRS and the IFAO decided to institutionalise its endeavours by recognising the Centre as a Mixed Service Unit (UMS 1812). In June 2007, in order to have the status to receive researchers, the UMS was promoted to a Service and Research Unit (USR 3134). In 2015, the CEAlex celebrated 25 years of existence. Marie-Dominique Nenna was nominated director of the USR by the president of the CNRS on 1 July 2015.

The offices of the team are housed in rented apartments over four floors of a modern building in the centre of Alexandria. A further five apartments close by serve as accommodation for visiting researchers and members of other archaeological missions. Since 1997, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has kindly granted the use of an excavation storehouse covering more than 3,000 m2 in order to store, inventory, study and restore archaeological material discovered during our digs. A part of this building was renovated in 2008 and today houses storage and study spaces, the CEAlex restoration laboratory, the archives of the Graeco-Roman Museum and the department of foreign missions. The renovation has continued since in autumn 2016, with the opening of two new halls.
In the beginning the CEAlex was primarily involved in salvage excavations, both on land and underwater, in response to the real estate development boom of the early 1990s. More than 20 excavations were conducted, covering a variety of contexts: domestic (housing from the Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman, and Islamic eras), institutional (medieval era cisterns, Qaitbay fort), religious, (Caesareum, the Eleusinion of Alexandria) and funerary (Gabbari bridge necropolis, Terra Santa necropolis). Underwater excavations took in the site of the Pharos of Alexandria at the foot of Qaitbay Fort and shipwrecks lying a little farther out to sea, the CEalex benefits from the support of the Honor Frost Foundation. At the beginning of the 2000s, the CEAlex also turned towards the Alexandrian hinterland with a systematic archaeological and paleo-environmental survey to the south of Lake Mariout and the excavation of four sites (Marea peninsula, Akademia farm villa, the Quarry Kom site, and Kom Bahig, which opened in spring 2016).

The urban excavations touch upon the entire history of the town and the study of Alexandria’s history over the long term, from its foundation in 331 BC up until the modern era, has developed naturally. This has led to collaborations with historians and archaeologists specialised in the medieval, Ottoman and modern periods, and the building up of relevant documentary resources (historical cartography, archives of institutions and Alexandrian families, collections of Egypt’s francophone press).
plaquette de présentation de l'Unité USR3134

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