Who is the Great Belzoni?

When it comes to infamous archeologists, Giovanni Battista Belzoni has earned quite a reputation over the years. Whether it was putting on a great performance or uncovering some of the best discoveries connected to ancient Egypt , Belzoni enjoyed a prosperous career when it comes to sharing the past with the rest of the world.

Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778 , 1823)

This Italian explorer found a great deal of ancient Egyptian artifacts and over the years had earned the nickname of the “Great Belzoni.” His journeys started in 1812 when he departed England and set off for Spain and Portugal. Afterwards, he found his way to Egypt in 1815. On the way, Belzoni sought after Mehemet Ali because he wanted to show him an invention (an engine) meant to raise the waters of the Nile River. Although it was a success, the design was scraped and Belzoni decided to keep on traveling.

He was then recommended by an orientalist named JL Burckhardt to be sent to Egypt, where he reached the Ramesseum at Thebes. This is where Belzoni used his talents to remove a colossal bust of Ramses II (also known as “the Young Memnon.” Belzoni then shipped this gem to England, which to this day is still on display at the British Museum.

The Great Belzoni is also known as the individual that urged the exploration of the temple of Edfu amongst other things. The man also paid a visit to Elephantine and Philae. He was the first on the scene to enter the second pyramid of Giza, and the first person from Europe (of modern times) to visit Bahariya. Belzoni is also linked to the ruins of Berenice on the Red Sea (which is identified) and the Abu Simbel temple of sand, which he cleared in 1817.

When Belzoni returned to England in 1819, he published an account of his explorations and traveling adventures that would take him a year to complete. It was called “Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia, etc” Between 1820 and 1821, he put on display the photocopies of the tomb of Seti I and held an exhibition at the Egyptian Hall , located at Piccadilly, London.

In 1823, he geared up to travel to West Africa, where he planned on seeking treasures in Timbuktu. However, he was not granted permission to pass through Morocco and instead took the route about the Guinea Coast. When he finally made it to the Kingdom of Benin, he became sick with dysentery at the village called Gwato. This is where he would take his last breath. However, one traveler claims that Belzoni was actually robbed and then killed.

3 Facts

1) It was in Padua that Belzoni was born the son of a barber.

2) Belozni was 6 foot 7 inches tall.

3) At one point, Belzoni made ends meet when he performed at fairs or about the streets of London as a strongman who would show off his great strength and ability.