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Giovanni Belzoni (ca. 1815)

Portrait of Giovanni Battista Belzoni (ca. 1815)).

Belzoni went to Egypt in 1815, intending to build hydraulic irrigation systems for Muhammad Ali, the Pasha of Egypt. To arrange contacts, he saw the former French consul at Alexandria, Bernardino Drovetti.

Belzoni also explored much of the Nile region and became involved in the collection of antiquities on commission. In this, he was often in competition with  collection agents organized by Drovetti.

Belzoni was among the first to systematically explore the Valley of the Kings near Thebes, where he discovered several major tombs which are described in his book, Recent Discoveries in Egypt. Belzoni's exploits of locating artifacts on commission are chronicled (along with the exploits of Drovetti) in a 1976 book by Brian Fagan, The Rape of the Nile.

More recently, some archaeologists who have worked in the Valley of the Kings, including Pearson, have published favorable accounts of Belzoni's pioneering work at tombs there, in terms of both historical interpretation and accuracy of site reporting. This includes Belzoni's own watercolors, which
show a relatively high quality of graphic depiction of the sites.

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