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Strongmen and Pharoahs

Posted on: 24th February 2015 By: David Thorold

It is not a typical piece of experience to go on the C.V. of an Egyptologist, but ‘circus strongman’ was one of the former professions of Giovanni Belzoni (1778-1823).  In the early years of the 19th century this Italian from the city of Padua, found himself commissioned by the British consul in Egypt to acquire and transport some of the monumental remains, including statues of the Pharaohs, back to Britain. No mere tomb robber, Belzoni recorded many of his finds in watercolour. Some of his methods of extracting the statues may seem crude to modern eyes, but he was more careful than many of his contemporaries and some of those that followed him.

On Saturday 28th February at 2pm the Museum of St Albans is hosting a lecture on Belzoni and his colleagues, ‘The Rediscovery of Ancient Egypt’ by Peter Clayton, Egyptologist, numismatist, archaeologist and author of a wide range of books on Ancient Egypt will tell the story of those who travelled to Egypt and led the resurgence of interest in the ancient culture of this country. Tickets £7, (£6 friends).  After the lecture Peter Clayton and I will be carrying out a free gallery talk in the Egyptian exhibition.

The image above shows a medal of Belzoni and is reproduced courtesy of the British Museum.