Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Exhibition: Along the Nile (Pisa, Italy)

A pioneering but fateful 19th-century expedition along the River Nile by two of the founding fathers of modern Egyptology is the focus of a new exhibition in Pisa.

Funded by Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II and Charles X of France, the 1828-29 voyage was led by Europe's first Egyptology professor, Ippolito Rosellini, and the French philologist who had recently deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Jean-Francois Champollion.

The men brought back a haul of ancient antiquities but also carried out a systematic survey of the monuments of Egypt and their hieroglyphic inscriptions, which - thanks to Champollion - they were able to read for the first time.

The Pisa show concentrates on the experiences of Rosellini and six fellow Tuscans who took part in the expedition - not all of whom made it back alive.

Around 200 priceless statues, bas-reliefs and other antiquities that the men brought back are on display at the city's Palazzo Blu, but the real focus of the exhibition is on the diaries, letters and paintings made by expedition members that give a first-hand account of their voyage.

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