Between 20 and 22 August 1798, less than two months after landing at Alexandria, the young Napoleon Bonaparte, member of the Institut de France, and General-in-Chief, with some famous scholars and some young enthusiasts, set up the Institut d'Egypte in Cairo. Its first scholars were in charge of the research, study and publication of physical, industrial and historical facts about Egypt and were to produce the Description de l'Egypte. A focal point for intellectual pursuit in Egypt, the Institut is the oldest functioning academy of sciences and arts outside Europe.
Menge, Fourier, Berthollet, Caffarelli, Saint-Hilaire and mathematician Louis Costaz, all members of the National Institute, joined René Desgenettes and Antoine François Andreossy in helping to formulate the purpose, regulations and composition of the new academic society.
Members of the Institut d'Egypte were in charge of the research and study of physical, industrial and historical facts about Egypt and published findings that stemmed from their activities as members of that body. Since a goal of the Institute was to propagate knowledge, it summarized their research in its own journal, La Decade Egyptienne. In addition, it printed a newspaper, the Courrier d'Egypte, which offered specific details about the work of Scientific and Artistic Commission and the Institute. In addition, a significant amount of the information in the Description de l'Egypte was compiled by members of the Institut d'Egypte. The Institut d'Egypte became the focal point for scholarly work in Egypt, and provided both actual space and structure for scholarly discourse.