Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 June 2021
If one maintains a single perspective of Egyptology, we must acknowledge that the schism that occurred within the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (see pp. 19) was a blow to both sides. For the Dutch, the directors of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) were forced to adapt to new economic realities (see p. 136). For them, the golden age of acquiring antiquities came to an abrupt end, even though the RMO’s collections continued to grow. For the Belgians, not only had Brussels lost any chance of one day hosting the great Egyptian museum promised to them, but also Leiden, with its collection of Egyptian antiquities, its university library and its Chair of Egyptology, lay in the now-separated northern part of the country, and would henceforth be Dutch. At a time when travel was rarely undertaken and when antiquities and reference books were few and exceedingly costly, Belgian savants found themselves, overnight, bereft of materials and instruction. The Belgian–Dutch divorce thus delayed the emergence of a specifically Belgian Egyptology: it remained to be seen if and how an independent Belgium could reverse the effects of this historical reality.