In the late 1700s, France had a Directory, "a group of five men who held executive power." Napoleon Bonaparte was just a military leader. The Directory wanted to attack England, but Napoleon was against this, so with the help of the Foreign Minister, he convinced the Directory to attack Egypt (to cut off Britain’s trade with India). Egypt at the time was still a Turkish (Ottoman) territory, but it was ruled by the Mamluks. In 1798, Napoleon and his fleet sail past the British fleet and land in Egypt. In the Battle of the Pyramids (July 21, 1798), the French Army fights against the forces of the local Mamluks, and almost wipes out the entire Egyptian army. As an act of vengeance, Admiral Nelson (British admiral) attacked the French fleet, decimating the fleet and trapping Napoleon and the French army in Egypt. Napoleon had word that the Ottomans were going to try to attack them, he led the army north, where he was met with a tough siege. The French went back to Egypt. However, since Napoleon wanted to pursue his career in France, he left Egypt.
When Napoleon came to Egypt (going back to 1798) he brought with him 150 s savants (scientists, engineers and scholars) to learn about Egyptian culture. “Meticulous topographical surveys were made, native animals and plants were studied, minerals were collected and classified, local trades and industry were scrutinized. Most famously, ancient Egypt was discovered — the temples and tombs of Luxor, Philae, Dendera, and the Valley of the Kings. Each of these sites was measured, mapped, and drawn, recording in meticulous detail a pharaonic Egypt never before glimpsed by the outside world.” Very soon, the savants went back to France to write a series of books about Egypt.