Library early closure: The Library will close at 5pm on Thursday 23 October to prepare for the annual Keith Murdoch Oration. More information

Facade conservation & repair works: Over the next few weeks there will be intermittent noise in the La Trobe Reading Room while work is carried out on the external walls. More information

Library early closure & facade conservation works
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Treasures & curios

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Page from 'Hypnerotomachia poliphili' Photo of a group of gold rush-era diggers Double-spread from 'Fables choisies' Photo from Edna Walling's manuscript Double page spread of 'Diary of a Welsh swagman' The top section of the Bendigo goldfields petition Double-spread of 'De musica' by Boethius Detail from 'Cyclorama of Melbourne' Image of 'Black Thursday' Detail from 'Birds of America' Detail from 'Panorama of Melbourne', 1855 Cover of 'The hut that Jack built' 'Princes Bridge', by Clarice Beckett, c1923 Peter Lalor's pistol Title page of Darwin's 'Origin of species' Cover page of Newton's 'Principia' The full armour Ned Kelly wore Double-spread of 'Myrrour of the worlde' Front view of the press dress Page of handwritten text from Charles Evans' diary Cover of Lady Loch's photo album

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Description de l'Egypte

Books, Journeys & exploration
Date: 1809–28
Author: Edme Francois Jomard, editor

Description de l'Egypte was published in Paris soon after Napoleon's fabled and ultimately ill-fated 1798 expedition to Egypt. Comprising 23 volumes, this work sparked modern interest in ancient Egypt.

In May 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte left France for Egypt with a military force of more than 34,000 men. Accompanying this expedition were 167 savants(scholars and scientists) headed by Baron Dominique Vivant Denon. This alliance of war with science was an historical first.

During a trip to Upper Egypt later that year, Denon made a series of hasty sketches of the region’s monumental ruins. Napoleon recognised their importance and commissioned the savants to accurately measure and draw these monuments. This work formed the basis of the Description de l'Egypte.

The fate of Napoleon’s army was tragic – few of the 34,000 made it back. Its scientific legacy was far more distinguished. Description de l'Egypte appeared over almost 20 years in installments, beginning in 1809. Soon after, the Rosetta Stone, unearthed by Napoleon’s army in 1799, was deciphered, and the age of archeology was born. This age would revolutionise our understanding of the origin of humans and, indirectly, of the universe.

Description de l'Egypte includes 900 plates bound in 11 volumes, nine volumes of text and three volumes of grand format. Measuring 107cm x 71cm, these volumes are the tallest books in the Library.