In 1899, British geologist Henry G. Lyons (1864–1944) began a systematic reassessment of the cadastral surveys conducted in Egypt under Ottoman Turkish rule. His updated survey was built upon 90 years of work—starting in 1813 when Muʿallim Ghali, a finance minister appointed by Muhammad ʿAli Basha (1769–1849), reorganized the finances of Egypt to optimize taxation. Acting on that mandate, Ghali ordered an official survey of the land. He subsequently used the survey to parcel arable lands into taxable segments, carving out administrative districts and provinces that formed the basis of taxation in his time, and as the starting point for Lyons’ reassessment at the turn of the century.
Lyons was a British military officer, surveyor, and geologist, educated at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, London. Lyons’ military career in Egypt began when he was posted to Cairo as a Royal Engineer, and then attached to the Egyptian Army also as an engineer. From 1899 through 1906, Lyons undertook his civilian work as director-general of the Geological Survey of Egypt and Cadastral Survey of Egypt within the Maṣlaḥat al-Misāḥah (Ministry of Public Works). As director-general he managed and documented a survey of nearly 5 million feddans (also faddān, equal to 20,000 square kilometers or 42000.83 square miles) of land. The latter work culminated in publication of the Cadastral Survey of Egypt 1892–1907 (Cairo, 1907) and, according to his own calculations, 17,964 sheets of cadastral maps of Egyptian provinces at a scale of 1:2,500.
The Geography and Map Division holds this provincial map series produced in the Arabic language, (see table below for coverage and Online Catalog records of each province), and has digitized and made available two provinces through our Online Collections: Asyūṭ and Gharbīyah.
Below is an example of a map sheet from the Asyūṭ provincial series available online.
The table below includes information taken from page 137 of the Cadastral Survey of Egypt 1892–1907 (Cairo, 1907). The link in the Online Catalog Record will take you to the catalog record for each province. Links to the item detail page and online display will be included in each Catalog Record, if available.
|Egyptian Province||Online Catalog Record||Area Surveyed (Feddans)||Period of Survey with Triangulation||Est. Number of Sheets Printed (1907) at scale 1:2,500|
|Banī Suwayf||//lccn.loc.gov/2009580337/||525, 440||1905–07||850|
|al-Gharbīyah||//lccn.loc.gov/2011591295/||1, 563,231||No Triangulation (1897–1901)||2,375 (1:4,000 scale)|
|al-Minūfīyah||//lccn.loc.gov/2009580333/||374,223||No Triangulation (1898–1902||2,197|
As more provinces become available online a link to the online presentation will be added to the respective province catalog record (see table above for link each province catalog record) in the Library’s Online Catalog. Also worth noting is that the triangulation used for the provincial cadastral collection highlighted here was also used on Egyptian topographic maps produced at the scale of 1:10,000, e.g., Madīnat al-Qāhirah (City of Cairo) and 1:50,000, e.g., Miṣr (Egypt). If you prefer to see the series in-person, feel free to stop by the Geography and Map Division reading room to view them.