REFLECTING ON THE 2015 CILIP CONFERENCE
Written by Martin Mullin, Head of UK Acquisitions. CILIP is the Chartered […]
Ivor Noel Hume
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The Italian son of a barber. A failed hydraulicengineer. A giant who performed feats of strength and agility in the circus.Giovanni Belzoni (1778-1824) was all of these before going on to become one of themost controversial figures in the history of Egyptian archaeology. A man ofexceptional size with an ego of comparable proportions, he procured for the BritishMuseum some of its largest and still awe-inspiring treasures. Today, however, thetypical museum visitor knows nothing of Belzoni, and many modern archaeologistsdismiss him as an ignorant vandal.
In thiscaptivating new biography, Ivor No l Hume re-creates an early nineteenth century inwhich there was no established archaeological profession, only enormous opportunity.Belzoni landed in Egypt, where he was unsuccessful in selling a hydraulic machine ofhis own invention, and came under the patronage of diplomat Henry Salt, whoconvinced him to travel to Thebes in search of artifacts. Among the many treasuresBelzoni would bring back was the seven-ton stone head of Ramesses II, the"Young Memnon."
The bookincludes gripping accounts of Belzoni's wildly productive, and physically brutal, expeditions, as well as an unforgettable portrait of his wife, Sarah, who sufferedthe hardships of the Egyptian deserts and later bore the brunt of thedisillusionment that came with the declining popular perception of her husband.Including numerous illustrations, many in color, this volume brings one ofarchaeology's most fascinating figures vividly tolife.
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