Giovanni Battista Belzoni.

Narrative of the operations and recent discoveries within the pyramids, temples, tombs, and excavations, in Egypt and Nubia; and of a journey to the coast of the Red Sea, in search of the ancient Berenice, and of another to the oasis of Jupiter Ammon online

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Online LibraryGiovanni Battista BelzoniNarrative of the operations and recent discoveries within the pyramids, temples, tombs, and excavations, in Egypt and Nubia; and of a journey to the coast of the Red Sea, in search of the ancient Berenice, and of another to the oasis of Jupiter Ammon → online text (page 1 of 41)
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As I made my discoveries alone, I have been anxious to write
my book by myself, though in so doing, the reader will consider
me, and with great propriety, guilty of temerity ; but the public
will perhaps gain in the fidelity of my narrative, what it loses in
elegance. 1 am not an Englishman, but I prefer that my readers
should receive from myself, as well as I am able to describe them,
an account of my proceedings in Egypt, in Nubia, on the coast,
of the Red Sea, and in the Oasis ; rather than run the risk
of having my meaning misrepresented by another. If I am in-
telligible, it is all that I can expect. I shall state nothing but
the plain matters of fact, as they occurred to me in these
countries, in 1815-16-17-18 and 19. A description of the
means I took in making my researches, the difficulties I had to
encounter, and how I overcame them, will give a tolerably
correct idea of the manners and customs of the people I had to


deal with. Perhaps I have spoken too much of the obstacles
thrown in my way, by the jealousy and intriguing spirit of my
adversaries, without considering that the public will care little
about my private quarrels, which to me, of course, appeared of
the greatest consequence on the spot, in these countries. But I
hope that a little indulgence may be allowed to my mortified feel-
ings, particularly when I reflect that it was through them that I
was compelled to leave Egypt before I had completed my plans.

I must apologise also for the few humble observations I have
ventured to give on some historical points ; but I had become so
familiar with the sight of temples, tombs, and pyramids, that I
could not help forming some speculation on their origin and
construction. The scholar and learned traveller will smile at
my presumption, but do they always agree themselves in their
opinions on matters of this sort, or even on those of much less
difficulty ? Much has been written on Egypt and Nubia by the
travellers of the last century, by Denon, and the French spavans,
whose general account of these countries has scarcely left any
thing unnoticed ; and by Mr. Hamilton, to the accuracy of the
latter of whom I can bear the most ample testimony. But
what can I say of the late Sheik Burckhardt, who was so well
acquainted with the language and manners of these people, that


none of them suspected him to be an European ? His account
of the tribes in these countries is so minutely correct, that little
or nothing' remains for observation in modern Egypt and Nubia.

I have, however, one more remark to make on myself, which
I am afraid the reader will think very vain : it is this, that no
traveller had ever such opportunities of studying the customs of
the natives as were afforded to me, for none had ever to deal
with them in so peculiar a manner. My constant occupation was
searching after antiquities, and this led me in the various trans-
actions I had with them, to observe the real character of the
Turks, Arabs, Nubians, Bedo weens, and Ababdy tribes. Thus I
was very differently circumstanced from a common traveller, who
goes merely to make his remarks on the country and its anti-
quities, instead of having to persuade these ignorant and super-
stitious people to undertake a hard task, in labours, with which
they were previously totally unacquainted.

My native place is the city of Padua: I am of a Roman
family, which had resided there for many years. The state and
troubles of Italy in 1800, which are too well known to require
any comment from me, compelled me to leave it, and from
that time I have visited different parts of Europe, and suffered


many vicissitudes. The greater part of my younger days I
passed in Rome, the former abode of my ancestors, where I
was preparing myself to become a monk ; but the sudden entry
of the French army into that city altered the course of my
education, and being destined to travel, I have been a wanderer
ever since. My family supplied me occasionally with remit-
tances ; but as they were not rich, I did not choose to be a
burthen to them, and contrived to live on my own industry,
and the little knowledge I had acquired in various branches.
I turned my chief attention to hydraulics, a science that I had
learned in Rome, which I found much to my advantage, and
which was ultimately the very cause of my going to Egypt. For
I had good information, that a hydraulic machine would be of
great service in that country, to irrigate the fields, which want
water only, to make them produce at any time of the year.
But I am rather anticipating. In 1 803 I arrived in England, soon
after which I married, and, after residing in it nine years, I
formed the resolution of going to the south of Europe. Taking
Mrs. Belzoni with me, I visited Portugal, Spain, and Malta,
from which latter place we embarked for Egypt, where we
remained from 1815 to 1819. Here I had the good fortune to
be the discoverer of many remains of antiquity of that primitive
nation. I succeeded in opening one of the two famous Pyra-


mids of Ghizeh, as well as several of the tombs of the Kings
at Thebes. Among the latter, that which has been pronounced
bv one of the most distinguished scholars of the aire to be the
tomb of Psammuthis, is at this moment the principal, the most
perfect and splendid monument in that country. The celebrated
bust of young Memnon, which I brought from Thebes, is now
in the British Museum ; and the alabaster sarcophagus, found in
the tombs of the kings, is on its way to England.

Near the second cataract of the Nile, I opened the temple
of Ybsambul ; then made a journey to the coast of the Red Sea,
to the city of Berenice, and afterwards an excursion in the
western Elloah, or Oasis. I now embarked for Europe, and
after an absence of twenty years, returned to my native land,
and to the bosom of my family; from whence I proceeded to

On my arrival in Europe, I found so many erroneous
accounts had been given to the public of my operations and
discoveries in Egypt, that it appeared to be my duty to publish
a plain statement of facts ; and should any one call its cor-
rectness in question, I hope they will do it openly, that I may
be able to prove the truth of my assertions.



Arrive at Alexandria, 1 .
Description of the plague, 2.
Departure for and arrival at Cairo, 3.
Visit the Pyramids — view from the top, 4.
Excursion to the Pyramid of Dajior — re-
turn to Cairo, 5.
Become acquainted with Mr. Burckhardt, 6.
Wounded by a Turk on horseback — ob-
servations on the Moors from Mecca
during my confinement, 7.
Presented to the Bashaw — rebellion of part

of his army, 8.
Danger in proceeding to Cairo— confined
to the house in consequence of the re-
volution — description of it, 11.
Commenced hydraulic operations, 12.
Soubra, chief residence of the Bashaw, 13.
His manner of living, 14.
He is electrified — description of Zulfur

Carcaja, governor of Soubra, 16.
His mode of curing diseases — marriage
ceremonies and festivals of the Arabs in
Soubra, 17.
Arabian play and farce, 19.
Shot at by a soldier, 20.
A young lady shot by a soldier, 21.
Complete the water machine, 22.
The English consul arrives in Cairo, 22.

Decision of the Bashaw on the hydraulic
machine— his frolic with it — the Irish
lad's thigh broke in consequence, 23.
Decided on ascending the Nile, 24.
Undertaking to remove the colossal bust,

and received instruction, 26.
Left Boolak for Thebes— saw Hermopolis

— arrived at Monfaluth, 29.
Siout, description of it, 31.
Saw Gow — a curious interview with the

Cacheffof Acmin, 32.
Arrival at and description of Dendera, 33.
Arrival at Kenneh — arrival at and descrip-
tion of Thebes, 37.
Begin operations for removing the bust of

young Memnon, 40.
First interview with the CachefF of Ele-
ments — his objection against the removal,
Farther difficulties encountered, 42.
Begin the operation of removing it, 43.
Removed from its original place and put

upon a car, 44.
Removed out of the ruins of the Memno-
nium — delay in consequence of indis-
position — works resumed, 45.
The Fellahs prevented from working by
order of the CachefF, 46.

b 2

XI 1


Insolence and duplicity of the Caimakan,

Account of a Turkish dinner in Ramadan
time, 48.

Obtain a firman and again proceed in the
works, 49.

Arrival of the great Colossus on the banks
of the Nile, 50.

First visit to a Mummy Cave, 51.

Preparations for departing to the first
Cataract of the Nile, 54.

Visit to Khalil Bey at Esne, 55.

Arrival at and description of the ruins of
Edfu, 56.

Distant view of Assouan — tradition relating
to an ancient King, 59-

Arrive at Assouan, or first Cataract, 60.

Description of the Aga of Assouan — de-
scription of the island of Elephantine, 61.

Difficulties in obtaining a boat to proceed to
the second Cataract, 63.

Set off for the isle of Philce, 65.

Continue the voyage — alarmed by the na-
tives, 66. Continuation of the voyage,
and arrival at El Kalabshe, 67.

Description of it, 68. Arrive at Garba
Dandour — proceed to Garba Merieh —
arrival at Garba Gyrshe, and description
of it, 71.

Arrival at and description of Dakke —
Greek inscription, 72.

Arrive at Meharraka, or Offelina — Greek
inscription — curious figures on an ancient
wall, 73.

Arrival at and description cf Seboua — ar-
rival at and account of Korosko, 74.

Arrival at Deir — interview with the Hassan
Cacheff, 75.

Leave Deir— arrive at Ibrim, 77.

Continuation of the voyage, and description
of the country, 78.

Arrive at and description of Faras, and
the temple of Ybsambul, 79.

Arrival at the village of Ybsambul — in-
terview with the Davoud Cacheff — de-
scription of the natives, 81 .

First introduce money into the country, 83.

Further description of the natives, 84.

Proceed towards the second Cataract, 85.

Arrive at Wady Haifa, 86.

Excursion by land on camels up the Ca-
taract — view of it — visit to the isle of
Mainarty, 87.

Frighten away the natives, 88.

Ascend the Nile against the eddies and
current — visit the Rock of Apsir, 89.

View of the Cataract from it — go on to the
island of Gulge, 90.

Foundation of a Greek church on the island
— return to Mainarty — leave it and de-
scend the Nile — arrive at Iskus, 91.

Interview with the Osseyn Cacheff, 92.

Leave Iskus — return to the village of
Ybsambul — description of a small temple
opposite it — endeavour to persuade the
natives to open the temple, 93.

Begin operations at the temple, 94.

Difficulties encountered from the natives,

Embarrassment of the Cacheff in fixing the
price of a sheep, 97.

He drinks wine for the first time, 98.

The natives come to work in great numbers
— their ideas on the treasure to be found,

Attempt to rob the boat, 100.

Causes for quitting the works at the temple,
and leave Ybsambul, 101.



Hailed and received letters sent by a soldier
from Deraou, 102.

Proceed to Cardassy — return to the first
Cataract — take possession of a small obe-
lisk and various other blocks of stone in
the island of Philce, 103.

Return to Assouan — visit the granite
quarries in the mountains, 105.

Discover a Latin inscription on a column
in the quarry — the little knowledge they
have of diamonds, 106.

Prepare to depart, 107.

Observation on the manners of the Arabs,

Leave Assouan and arrive at Luxor —
proceedings taken to obtain a boat to
convey the bust of Memnon to Alexan-
dria, 109-

Works recommenced in Carnak, 111.

Secure a boat — beginning of discoveries,

Count de Forbin, 114.

Description of the place where I first dis-
covered the lion-headed statues, 115.

Further proceedings in Carnak, 116.

Meet Khalil Bey on the Nile, 117.

Conversazione with the Bey and his court,

Account of a dinner with him, 119-

Description of the sepulchres in Gournou
and Medinet Aboo, 120.

First excursion in the valley of Beban el
Malook — first discover the tomb of a
king, 123.

Description of the mountains round the val-
ley — water descends from thedesert, 124.

Further difficulties in obtaining a boat,

Curious incident by which the boat was ob-
tained, 126.

Trial respecting the boat, and decision in
favour of the author, 129.

Works recommenced in Gournou — embark
the colossal bust of Memnon, 131.

Preparations for departing to Cairo — Oph-
thalmia—leave Thebes for Cairo, 133.

Arrival in Cairo — leave Cairo for Alexan-
dria, 134.

Arrive in Rosetta — Bogase — and in Alex-
andria — landed and lodged the colossal
head in the Bashaw's magazine ready to
be embarked for England — farther pro-
posal to ascend the Nile, 135.

Return to Cairo — account of Captain Ca-
billia's operations at the Pyramids, 136.


Left Cairo for Thebes, 141.

Stopped at Tabeen and Boorumbol, 142.

Description of an Arabian dance — arrival
at Minieh, 143.

Arrival at Eshmounein, and sudden de-
parture for Luxor, 1 44.

A forced march to Thebes, 145.
Account of Bedoween horsemen and their

tents, 146.
Disagreeable consequences occasioned by

the interpreter omitting to send a letter

to the Defterdar Bey, 148.



Another interview with the Cacheff of Ele-
ments — miracles performed by a Santon,
Further proceedings in Luxor, 151.
Description of the temple of Carnak, 152.
Further proceedings in Thebes, 154.
Description of the natives, and tombs of

Gournou, 155.
Observations on the mode of discovery of

the tombs, 158.
Further account of the natives — manner of
the Fellahs making their researches, 159.
Purchase two metal vases from a chief of

the Fellahs, 160.
Further operations and discovery of lion-
headed sphinxes in Carnak, 162.
Iron sickle discovered under one of the

sphinxes, 163.
Further knowledge acquired on the dis-
covery of tombs — Herodotus's descrip-
tion of mummies, 165.
Observations on the various classes and de-
scriptions of mummies, 167.
Of animal mummies, 168.
Of mummy priests, 170.
Mummies discovered in their original posi-
tion, 171-
Farther account of mummies, 1 72.
Their decorations — linen manufactures —

enamelling, gilding and other arts, 173.
Art of painting, 174.
Sculpture, 175.
Architecture, and knowledge of arches with

a key-stone, 176.
Sculpture, 179.

Uncover the foundation of a temple in the
waste of Gournou — curious manner in
discovering a tomb, 180.
Description of a night's lodging in the
tomb, 181.

Happiness of the natives of Gournou, 182.

Their preparations for a wedding, 183.

Proceedings in Carnak — discovery of a
colossal head — accumulate various ar-
ticles, 184.

Arrival of the Defterdar Bey at Gatnola,
and his orders — receive information from
the Sheik of Gournou, 185.

Present a letter from the Bashaw to the
Defterdar Bey, 186.

The Bey visits Thebes, 187.

He visits Medinet Aboo, 188.

His barbarous conduct towards the Sheik
of Gournou, 189.

He ascends the Nile, and returns to
Thebes, 191.

Interview with the Bey on his return from
Deraou, 192.

Arrival of two of the fathers of the Propa-
ganda at Thebes, 192.

Description of a whirlwind, 195.

Mirage, 196.

Locusts — deception of Defterdar Bey in
issuing a firman for men to work, 197.

Preparations for and departure to the island
of Philce — further account of its monu-
ments, 199-

Preparations for Ybsambul — arrival of

Captains Irby and Mangles, 202.
Celebration of the birth-day of his Majesty
George III. — leave Philce, and arrive at
Ybsambul, 203.
Proceed to the second Cataract — com-
bination of the natives and boatmen to
extort money, 204.
Return to Ybsambul — arrival of the Ca-
cheffs, Daoud and Khalil — displeasure
of Khalil — preparations for opening the
temple, 205.
Commence opening the temple, 206.



Works stopped by the Ramadan — resolve

to work ourselves, 207.
Visits from strange Cacheffs, said to be from

Ibrim, 208.
Their conduct, 209.
Works continued — entry into the temple

— -description of the interior, 811.
Description of the exterior, 213.
Leave Ybsambul, 214.
Arrive at Tomas — return to Deir, 215.
Arrive at Almeida — return to Kalabshe —

opposition of the natives to our entering

the temple, 216.
Arrival at Hindau, 217.
Arrival at Debod, and return to Philoe —

descend the cataract to Assouan — visit.

the granite quarries and the Latin in-
scription, 218.
Departure from Assouan — pass Edfu —

landed at Elethias — description of it, 219.
Return to Luxor, 220.
Return to Erments to obtain a firman for

labourers to work at Gournou— the

Cacheff is displaced by the Bey, 221.
Commence searching for the kings' tombs,

Description of the valley of Beban el

Malook, 224.
Number and description of the tombs, 225.
Further discovery of tombs, 227.
Arrival of travellers, 228.
Their visit to a newly discovered tomb, 229-
Recommence operations, and point out the

spot where the great tomb is found, 230.
Further proceedings, 231.
Enter the tomb, 232.
Further entrance, and description of its

various apartments, 234.
Discovery of the sarcophagus of alabaster,


Description of the entrance into the tomb
of Psammuthis, 237.

Description of the various representations
in the tomb, and figures in sculpture on
the walls, 238.

Painting — method taken for procuring a
Jac simile of the tomb, 239.

Description of the various figures, 240.

Dr. Young's discovery of the name of the
tomb, 242.

Continuation of the description of the
figures, 243.

Mahomet Aga visits the tomb, 246.

Unfortunate fate of the stones prepared to
be taken from the isle of Philce, 248.

Arrival of a noble family and the consul at
Thebes — set off for and arrive at Boolak,

Meet with Count de Forbin, 251.

Despatches arrive from India, 252.

Farther account of Count de Forbin, 253.

Transmit to Europe, by the Count, an ac-
count of his proceedings, 254.

Visit the Pyramids — reflection on the pos-
sibility of penetrating that of Ccphrenes,
and motive which induced the author to
undertake it, 255.

Difficulties encountered, 256.

Observations on the Pyramids, 257.

Mode of obtaining permission for the ope-
ration, 258.

Caution observed not to let the proceedings
be known, 259.

Begin the undertaking, 260.

Foundation ofalarge templediscovercd,261.

Tedious operations without any prospect
of success — first discovery of an entrance,

Disappointment, and determination still to
persevere, 265.



Calculation by which the true entrance was
discovered, 266.

Again resume the work — Arrival of Che-
valier Frediani, 267.

Discovery of the blocks of granite belong-
ing to the true entrance —discovery of
the true entrance, 268.

Difficulties in entering — description of the
portcullis, 270.

Description of the interior — the sarcophagus
found in the great chamber, 271.

Arabic inscription observed on the wall of
the chamber — translation of it, 272.

Bones found in the sarcophagus — place from

whence the stones have been taken for

building the Pyramids, 275.
Accounts of the Pyramids, 276.
The supposed purpose for which they were

erected, 277.
Their dimensions, 278.
Opinion on there not being hieroglyphics

on the Pyramids, 279-
Their coating — on their being surrounded

by the Nile — operation on the third Py-
ramid, 280.
Preparations for a third journey to Thebes,

Set off for Thebes, 28.3.


Visit the Deftcrdar Bey of Siout — his
amusements in military exercise and ob-
servations on fire-arms, 283.

Mode of trying capital crimes, 284.

The Bey's knowledge on architecture, 286.

Proceed towards Thebes — visit my old
friend Soliman, Cacheff of Erments, at
Tacta, 288.

Ecbpse of the sun — arrival and proceedings
at Thebes, 289.

Discover a fine colossal statue — opinion on

the right site of the temple of Memnon,

Hints to travellers where to dig for anti-

quities, 292.
Take models of the tombs in wax, 294.
The author's motives for undertaking a

journey to the Red Sea, 295.
Preparations for departure, 296.


Set sail — extraordinary inundation of the

Nile, 299.
Arrive at Esne, and visit Ibrahim Bey —

arrive at the island of Hovassce, 302.
Preparations for entering the desert, 303.
Set off for the desert towards the Red Sea

— arrive at the first well in the desert, 304.

Approach towards Wady el Meeah— its

temple, 305.
Continuation of journey, 307.
Observe several hills of granite, 30S
Description of the Ababdy tribes, 809-
Continuation of the journey — sight of the

Red Sea, 313.



Sight of the Zubara or Emerald Mountains

— description of the miners, 314.
And of the mines, 315.
Preparations for journey to Sakiet, 31 G.
Description of the road towards it — searches

for Sakiet in consequence of Mr. Caliud's

erroneous information, 317.
View the Red Sea from the top of a moun-
tain, 321.
Continue our journey towards the Red

Sea, 323.
Arrival at the Red Sea, 324.
Description of the coast, 325.'
Correctness of Mr. Bruce's account of that

coast — sulphur mines, 326.
Fishermen — their mode of fishing, 327.
Island of Gambe — its situation with the

Wady el Gemal, 328.
Sulphur mines— effects of the south-east

wind — arrive at Cape Golahen, or Lept

Estrama, 329.
Arrive at the ruins of an ancient town —

its situation, bay and harbour, 330.
Dimensions of the town, 331.

Farther account of the town and lands
round it — proved to be the Berenice de-
scribed by D'Anville, 332.

Its supposed ancient population, &c. 334.

Left Berenice on return to the Nile-
arrived at the first well, 335.

Arrive at Haboo Grey, station of the an-
cient caravan passing to and from Bere-
nice, Coptos, and Amusue! — a spring
of running water, 336.

Arrive at Sakiet— returned to the Red Sea
— observations on the coast, 337.

Return to Sakiet, 338.

Greek inscription found there, 339.

Arrive at Kafafeet, another caravan station
— arrive at Habookroog — description of
a desert, 341.

Arrive at Hamesh — arrive at Samout,
another caravan station — arrive at Dan-
gos, 344.

Returned to Wady el Meeah — return to
the Nile — interview with the Sheik of
the Ababdy, 345.

Voyage from Elethias to Gournou, 346.



Arrival of various persons in Thebes, 347.

Account of their proceedings, 348.

Set off' for the first Cataract — arrive at

Elethias and Edfu, 351.
Account of Silsili, 352.
Arrive at Assouan, 353.
Proceedings of the agents of Mr. Drouetti

at Philce, 355.
Commencement of operations for removing

the obelisk — difficulties encountered, 356.

It falls into the Nile, 357.

Preparations for taking it out — description
of the operation, 358.

Again embarked — preparations for launch-
ing it down the Cataract — observations
on the various colours of the cut granite,

Launch the obelisk, 361.

Arrive at Assouan, and voyage to Thebes,




Account of a stranger, 364.

Visit Carnak, 365.

Assaulted by a band of Arabs, led on by
two Piedmontese in Mr. Drouetti's em-
ploy, 366.

Preparations for returning to Europe, 370.

Reflections on the climate under the tropic
of Cancer on the Nile, 371.

Left Thebes — arrive at Benisouef, and met

with Mr. Pearce, the Abyssinian traveller,

Difficulties and delay in embarking for

Europe, 375.
Form a resolution of making a journey

into the Oasis, 376.


Online LibraryGiovanni Battista BelzoniNarrative of the operations and recent discoveries within the pyramids, temples, tombs, and excavations, in Egypt and Nubia; and of a journey to the coast of the Red Sea, in search of the ancient Berenice, and of another to the oasis of Jupiter Ammon → online text (page 1 of 41)