Thursday, November 29, 2007

Foreign teams on missions in Egypt

Egyptian Gazette

As ever with the Egyptian Gazette this story will only be available for a few days.

More than one hundred foreign archaeological teams are currently working in Egypt and all are hoping to discover new monuments and artefacts that might answer some of the big questions. Foreign archaeologists have been coming here during the last two centuries.

Giovanni Belzoni (1778-1823) was an Italian adventurer who made numerous discoveries, many of which were procured for European collectors and museums. In 1815, Belzoni came to Cairo to offer Mohamed Ali Pasha, the founder of modern Egypt, a hydraulic machine he had invented. While in Egypt, he met British Consul General Sir Henry Salt, who engaged him to travel to Thebes to remove the colossal stone head of Ramses II prior to sending it to the British Museum in London. His success prompted Salt to follow Belzoni's expeditions to the temples at Edfu, Philae and Elephantine. He cleared the great temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, excavated at Karnak, and discovered the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I in the Valley of the Kings in 1817. Belzoni was the first person to penetrate the second pyramid at Giza in 1818 by using his engineering genius to locate the entrance to the inner chambers. He was also the first European to visit the Siwa Oasis and identify the ruined city of Berenice on the Red Sea.

Sir Henry Salt was keen to make his name as a collector. In 1815, he was appointed British Consul-General in Alexandria, where he prepared an extensive collection of antiquities for sale to the British Museum. During his time as Consul-General, he sponsored many excavations in Egypt and Nubia. He acquired many valuable antiquities for the British Museum and added to his own already immense collection. Through the help and services of Giovanni Belzoni, he procured several important monuments from Thebes.

See the above page for the full story.

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