A worker on Monday displays a page from the Le Description de l'Égypte, or Description of Egypt, that was salvaged from the ruins of the Institut d'Égypte.
Description of Egypt was a series of illustrated texts created by hundreds of scholars, artists, and technicians who accompanied Napoleon to Egypt in 1798. It aimed to be a comprehensive catalog of artifacts—both ancient and modern—that the French discovered in Egypt.
"The whole gamut of Egyptian society at that time was studied and comprised in those volumes," UCLA's Wendrich said.
The entire 24-volume series has been digitized and can be viewed online, so the information it contained has not been lost. But UCLA's Wendrich worries that a rare first-edition copy of the monumental series-one of only five copies in Egypt-housed at the complex may have been burned beyond repair.
Wendrich said she can't tell whether the page pictured is from one of the first editions.
(Quiz: What do you know about Egypt?)