NOTABLE ARCHAEOLOGISTS Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823)

May 11, 2011

NOTABLE ARCHAEOLOGISTS Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823)

An Italian sailor who traveled to England where he became a weight lifter at Sadler’s
Wells Theatre in London, Belzoni also designed hydraulic displays for public entertainment in England.
Later, on his travels in Europe, he was encouraged to take his expertise to Egypt to construct irrigation equipment.
Although this venture was unsuccessful, he came to the notice of the diplomat and collector of antiquities, Henry Salt, who employed him to augment his collection.

Belzoni enjoyed a spectacular and successful career as an archaeological excavator. Among the important monuments he discovered was the Tomb of Sethos I. A full-scale reproduction of two of the tomb chambers, a large model of the complete tomb, and associated antiquities were displayed to the public in the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, in 1821.
A controversial excavator, with scant regard for careful methodology, Belzoni nevertheless made some notable discoveries that entered major museum collections in Europe. His talent for publicity also introduced Egyptology to a new, wider audience.


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