Commission des Sciences et des Arts

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The Commission des Sciences et des Arts or "Commission of the Sciences and Arts" was a French learned body set up on 16 March 1798. It was made up of 167 members, of which all but 16 joined Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt and produced the Description de l'Égypte. More than half were engineers and technicians, including 21 mathematicians, 3 astronomers, 17 civil engineers, 13 naturalists and mining engineers, geographers, 3 gunpowder engineers, 4 architects, 8 artists, 10 mechanical artists, 1 sculptor, 15 interpreters, 10 men of letters, 22 printers in Latin, Greek and Arabic characters. Bonaparte organised his scientific 'corps' like an army, dividing its members into 5 categories and assigning to each member a military rank and a defined military role (supply, billeting) beyond his scientific function.


Some members - like Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, Monge, or Vivant Denon - are universally remembered but most have been all but forgotten. Some became members of the Institut d'Egypte.