Sir John Soane's Museum, London

Egypt Uncovered: Belzoni and the Tomb of Pharaoh Seti I

Published on:

To coincide with the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Pharaoh Seti I by the Egyptologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni (1778–1823), the John Soane's Museum presented a new exhibition revealing the story behind the Museum’s most treasured possession.

Known as ‘The Great Belzoni’, Giovanni Battista Belzoni was one of the most famous and pioneering explorers of his age, and played a crucial role in the development of Egyptology as a scientific discipline. A former circus strongman based in London, in 1815 Belzoni took up the role of engineer in Egypt, charged with the removal of large and heavy antiquities. This included the seven-ton bust of Pharaoh Ramesses II, taken from the king's memorial temple at Luxor that now sits in the British Museum.

On 17 October 1817, Belzoni made his finest discovery: he found the tomb of Ramesses’ father, Seti I comprising ten vividly painted chambers decorated with thousands of hieroglyphs, and Seti’s elaborately carved white alabaster sarcophagus. The sarcophagus was removed by Belzoni and eventually purchased by John Soane in 1824, who gave it pride of place in the Sepulchral Chamber at the heart of the Museum. 

MACM works on loan:

A wall rubbing of Seti I wearing a wig and the sacred uraeus
Giovanni Battista Belzoni with Alessandro Ricci
1817-1820
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