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Giovanni Belzoni

WHS connected with Giovanni Belzoni (1778-1823).

Pioneering figure in Egyptology, born in Italy, emigrated to Britain (via the Netherlands) and first visited Egypt in 1815. Spent much of his time collecting artifacts for his patron Henry Salt, the British Consul General in Cairo. Operated before the age of scientific archaeology and often caused irreparable damage. Despite his "tomb robbing" reputation many of his discoveries were groundbreaking.

Connected Sites

  • Ancient Thebes in 1815 he removed the enormous bust of Ramesses II from the Ramesseum and had it shipped to England. Henry Salt presented it to the British Museum where it is still on display. On a return trip in 1817 he made a string of finds including the tombs of Ramesses I and Seti I
  • Nubian Monuments Feb 1817 - discovered the Great Temple of Abu Simbel and cleared it of sand.
  • Paris, Banks of the Seine The Louvre Egyptian Collection contains a large number of items collected by Belzoni. e.g the Sarcophagus Box of Ramesses III. Champollion was a curator there and advised Charles X to buy Salt's second collection which the British Museum considered too expensive!
  • Pyramids (Memphis) first person in modern times to penetrate to the interior of the Pyramid of Khaefre whose entrance he had discovered on the north face. Inscribed a message of the date (2 March 1818) on the internal wall.
  • Timbuktu died of dysentery in Benin (modern Nigeria) trying to reach Timbuktou in 1823

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