Collection De Keersmaecker MSS - The Graffiti Archive Roger O. De Keersmaecker

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Identity area

Reference code

De Keersmaecker MSS


The Graffiti Archive Roger O. De Keersmaecker


  • 1965-2019 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

15 boxes, 11 slip-index boxes, 3 35mm slide-storage boxes [NEEDS UPDATING when catalogue completed]

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Roger O. De Keersmaecker was born in Leopoldville (Kinshasa), Belgian Congo, on 11 September 1931 and died in Wilrijk (Antwerp), Belgium, at midnight 15-16 June 2020. When he was still very young, he became interested in Egyptian art after reading in a popular magazine about the mystery and the curse after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun. For a long time, a trip to Egypt was as far away as a trip to the moon.
In 1960 he married Helena Beeckman, and both started visiting European Egyptian collections, including those in Brussels, London, Paris, Turin, Leiden, Hannover, and Hildesheim. After five years of marriage, in 1965, his long-awaited dream became a reality: they both went for a fortnight to Egypt and spent one week in Cairo and another in Luxor, equipped with three cameras and many film rolls. They made taxi trips to Sakkara, Memphis, Dahshur and Fayum and admired the wonderful treasures of the Cairo Museum. From Luxor, they went to Dendera, Abydos, Esna and Edfu.
In the interior of the pylon of the temple of Edfu, Roger noticed his first graffito of John Gordon in 1804. Year after year, De Keersmaecker went back, only pausing one year due to the Egyptian/Israelian war. Marie-Paule Vanlathem brought him in contact with H. De Meulenaere, L. Limme, and the late J. Quagebeur. In 1975, during the opening of the great Akhenaten exhibition in Brussels, H. De Meulenaere announced that Roger was selected as a photographer to work for two seasons at the tomb of Padihorresnet in Asasif (Theban Necropolis). Later he worked for several seasons with the Belgian archaeological mission at El Kab. Previously, he had already started his research on early travellers' graffiti, which took him to Sudan three times.
De Keersmaecker was a member of the Fondation Egyptologique Reine Elisabeth, Brussels, and of the Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East, Cambridge (www.astene.ORG.UK), and published several articles in the ASTENE Bulletin. He was the author, printer and publisher of the Travellers' graffiti from Egypt and the Sudan. Information adapted from De Keersmaecker, Roger O. (2006), Travellers' graffiti from Egypt and the Sudan, V: Thebes: the Temples of Medinet Habu, final page.

Archival history

Formerly in the possession of Roger O. De Keersmaecker.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Presented by Roger O. De Keersmaecker in October 2019. The material was accessioned in January 2020.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Corpus of early traveller’s graffiti from selected sites and monuments in Egypt and Sudan, including transcriptions and photographs of graffiti, collated by Roger De Keersmaecker between 1965 and the 2010s, then published by him between 2001 and 2019.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Kept as received.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Property of the Griffith Institute. No restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright Griffith Institute, University of Oxford.

Language of material

  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • German

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

No problems.

Finding aids


Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

These are originals.

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Publication note

  • Most of the documentation has been published in De Keesmaecker's publications on travellers' graffiti from Egypt and the Sudan. For the publications, see MSS 5.

Notes area


  • The collection is to be referred to as The Graffiti Archive Roger O. De Keersmaecker.

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Physical storage

  • Shelf: 0517A