Beautiful 19th century images of Egyptian monuments shed light on rediscovery of Ancient Egypt

The rediscovery of Ancient Egyptian monuments, temples and tombs during the 19th century by pioneering adventurers will be charted as part of a new exhibition running at our University until 12 November.  

Titled ‘Buried beneath the sands: Unearthing Ancient Egypt’, the exhibition is brought to life through a number of beautiful contemporary images which showcase the majesty of the Pyramids of Giza, the Great Temple at Abu Simbel and a number of other iconic structures – some of the most exceptionally preserved monuments in history.  

The exhibition celebrates the achievements of Egyptologist and adventurer Giovanni Belzoni, who was the first to set foot inside Abu Simbel, which had been sealed for centuries beneath the sands of the desert.

As well as the opening of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel, Belzoni was responsible for the discovery of the tomb of Seti I in the Valley of the Kings, major finds at the Colossi of Memnon and Karnak, the discovery of the entrance to the Pyramid of Khephren at Giza and the removal of a colossal bust of Ramses II (now in the British Museum) from the Ramesseum. 

Belzoni documented his discovery of Seti I’s tomb with sketches and over 300 detailed watercolour studies, something that few would have thought to do at that time. 

The exhibition has four cases, which cover ‘The Pyramids of Giza’, ‘On the Nile’ (which concentrates largely on Philae), ‘A Mysterious Script and a Circus Strongman’ (which discusses the decipherment of hieroglyphs and Belzoni’s exploits) and ‘The Delights of the Country: Early Travellers’ Impressions’.

The exhibition, ‘Buried beneath the sands: Unearthing Ancient Egypt’, will run in the David Wilson Library basement until 12 November.