This blog is intended both as an instrument for researchers on early explorers in Egypt and Nubia, providing useful tools in the On-line Resources section (On-line books, Archives, Map Collections, Photo Collections, etc.), and as a place to publish original documentation and research on the subject (i.e. List of travellers, Accounts, Letters, etc.). Anyone who would like to contribute with suggestions or articles is warmly welcomed!

Monday, 6 January 2014

PLATES of Jomard (1823), Voyage à l’Oasis de Syouah

Jomard E.F., Voyage à l’Oasis de Syouah, rédigé et publié par M. Jomard, De Rignoux, Paris 1823.

Unfortunately, these are not really high quality because scans of photocopies of a reprint...

PLATE 1. Carte de l'Oasis de Syouah

PLATE 2. Vue du village de Garah

PLATE 3. [1] Vue d'un ancien edifice dans la plane de Mahaoueyn; [2]-[6] Plans et details de plusieurs edifices de Zeytoun

PLATE 4. Vue de ruines dans la plane de Zeytoun

PLATE 5. Vue d'un edifice antique a Zeytoun

PLATE 6. Detail de la porte interieure d'un edifice antique a Zeytoun

PLATE 7. [1]-[3] Trois edifices situes pres de Zeytoun; [4]-[5] Monument souterrein a Gebel Mouta; [6]-[12] Plans et details de plusieurs autres constructions souterreines

PLATE 8. Vue des ruines d'un temple appele Qasr Gacham

PLATE 9. [1] Vue du village de Gharmy; [2]-[5] Plan et details des ruines appelees Amondeyn

PLATE 10. Vue de la ville de Syouah, du cote du sud

PLATE 11. Plan topographique du temple d'Omm-Beydah et des environs

PLATE 12. Vue des ruines d'un temple a Omm-Beydah, prise du sud

PLATE 13. Vue des ruines d'un temnple a Omm-Beudah, prise du nord-ouest

PLATE 14. Decoration interieure du temple d'Omm-Beydah, a droit en entrant

PLATE 15. Decoration interieure du temple d'Omm-Beydah, a gauche entrant

PLATE 16. Decoration exterieure de la porte du temple d'Omm-Beydah

PLATE 17. [1]-[3] Sculptures de la porte et du plafond du temple d'Omm-Beydah; [4] Plan du temple

PLATE 18. [1] Fragment du temple d'Omm-Beydah; [2]-[3] Plan et coupe de Deyr Roum

PLATE 19. Vue de Deyr Roum

PLATE 20. [1] Vue d'un edifice antique aupres de Kamyseh; [2] Vue de la plaine de Chyatah, sur le chemin du lac Arachyeh

It might be useful to link here another important early book on Siwa, i.e.

Von Minutoli J.H.B.M., Reise zum Tempel des Jupiter Ammon in der Libyschen Wüste und nach Ober-Aegypten in den Jahren 1820 und 1821, nach den tagebüchern Sr. Excellenz herausgegeben und mit Beilagen begleitet von Dr. E.H. Toelken, Rücker, Berlin 1824.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Siwa, Two-Hundred Years Later (1820-2014)

In 1820 Drovetti set off to Siwa following the army sent by Mehmed 'Ali, Pasha of Egypt, to conquer the Oasis. He was accompanied by Louis Adolphe Linant de Bellefonds, Alessandro Ricci and Domenico Frediani. Linant and Ricci devoted themselves to epigraphy (Ricci) and landscape drawing (Linant); they handed over their drawings to Drovetti (although some high-quality copies were made and then given to William John Bankes, a patron to both Ricci and Linant, and are now at the Dorset History Centre, DHC). Drovetti gave the drawings to Jomard, who published them in 1823, with a map and a commentary. Nearly two-hundred years later, what they saw and recorded is almost completely gone.

1. Aghurmi, which is now believed to host the real temple of the oracle, was at the time an inhabited village. Villagers did not show Drovetti and his men the hidden temple and the drawing taken by Linant shows the mosque and the well, the platform beside the palace, but no trace of the temple (which lies to the left), as he was not aware of its existence. This is Jomard 1823, Pl. IX.1; the corresponding copy at the DHC is XIX.B.2:

And this is how it looks now:

2. Temple of 'Umm Beida. At the time it was believed to be the temple of the oracle. It suffered massive losses in the last two-hundred years. This is a depiction in Jomard 1823, Pl. XIII (DHC XIX.B.9); the temple is taken from the North-West:

And here how it looks now:

Another view from the South in Jomard 1823, Pl. XII (DHC XIX.B.8):

And a similar view in Minutoli 1824, Pl. VII:

This is how it looks now:

The East wall and blocks from the ceiling is all what is left. Here is the wall as in Jomard 1823, Pl. XV (DHC XIX.A.5-6; same in Minutoli 1824, Pl. VIII):

And here it is how it looks now (it is impossible to take an orthogonal photo since the blocks of the collapsed ceiling occupy the area):

This is the ceiling in Jomard 1823, Pl. XVII.2 (DHC XIX.A.8):

And how they look now:

3. Qasr al-Gashsham (al-Quraishat): the Roman village has recently disclosed many houses and oil presses. In 1820 the only visible thing was a stone temple, here in Jomard 1823, Pl. VIII:

And how it looks now:

4. To the West, one of the main attraction was Balad al-Rum, with the so-called "Doric temple". Until the 2nd half of the 19th century it used to be the best preserved monument of Siwa. Here as in Jomard 1823, Pl. XIX (DHC XIX.B.7):

And a similar view in Minutoli 1824, Pl. III:

And this is how it looks now, even after extensive work done by Liana Souvaltzi in the 1990s (in fact, the best preserved part is the one unearthed by the Greek archaeologist, i.e. the front part of the long building; the drawing published by Jomard and Minutoli shows the rear part, now completely destroyed):

5. Khamissa is a small village to the south of Balad al-Rum, also on the west side of the Birket Siwa. Drovetti's men recorded a stone-built structure, here in Jomard 1823, Pl. XX.1 (DHC XIX.B.3):

Now it is very difficult to recognize it since completely swallowed by the houses:

6. Shali Fortress (Old Siwa). There are two different views of it from the 1820s; this one is to be found in Jomard 1823, Pl. X (view from the South):

This is in Minutoli 1824, Pl. V (view from the North-East, despite Minutoli labelling it as a view from the East):

 And this is how it looks now (a view form the East):

Friday, 31 May 2013

Early Images of Egypt (Photographic Archive Collection of the Frank H. McClung Museum)

Frank H. McClung Museum
University of Tennessee Knoxville

Images can be searched by title, author, theme, period, tags, etc. Catalogue very detailed. Many 1913 unpublished photos.

"Pharaoh: Reborn" Exhibition in Bristol (Considerations on Belzoni and Ricci)

20 April to 29 September 2013
Bristol City Museum & Art Galleries

From the website of the Bristol City Council:
"Pharaoh: Reborn showcases some of our incredible watercolours made by Giovanni Belzoni and his team between 1817-1820. They’re the highlight of our extensive Egyptian Archaeology collection. [...] In 1821, the watercolours were exhibited in London and Paris. Huge crowds attended and Sety I’s tomb is now one of the most well known tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Since the tomb’s discovery it’s been severely water damaged and closed to the public. Belzoni’s paintings provide the most complete record of the decoration that once existed".

A bit disappointed to find out that Alessandro Ricci, the real (and sole author) of the original copies, is not mentioned in the presentation of the exhibition. Belzoni discovered the tomb in October 1817; around February 1818 he asked Alessandro Ricci, a young physician and draughtsman from Siena, Italy, to go to Luxor from Cairo and start copying the reliefs. Ricci travelled on the British Consulate boat with a letter for Consul Henry Salt, who was expecting Belzoni:

I sent up the boat, with the intention of going myself by land. I had engaged Signor Ricci, a young man from Italy, who was very clever at drawing, and who with a little practice became perfect in his imitations of the hieroglyphics. He was to begin the drawings of the tomb on his arrival in Thebes[1].

[1] G.B. Belzoni, Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within Pyramids, Temples, Tombs and Excavations in Egypt and Nubia [John Murray, London 1821], H. Remy, Brussels 1835, p. 232.
From February-March until September Ricci worked in the tomb alone in order to copy as many reliefs as possible. Salt wrote:

Belzoni’s models will be found interesting, and so will the sketches and outlines he takes home, done for him by a young Italian named Ricci – he himself does not draw so well[2].

[2] J.J. Halls, The Life and Correspondence of Henry Salt Esq. FRS & c., Richard Bentley, London 1834, p. 501.
And again:

…I may mention that, during the whole of this year, while engaged in the drawings and models of the tomb, (in which he received every assistance and encouragement we could afford him,) both he and his artist, Mr. Ricci, lived entirely at my expenses, a table for all being kept at my desire by Mr. Beechey, and put down to my charge, to which I was by no means obliged by our contract[3]

[3] J.J. Halls, The Life and Correspondence of Henry Salt, Esq. F.R.S. & His Britannic Majesty’s Late Consul-General in Egypt, Vol. II, Richard Bentley, London 1834, p. 22.

According to Ricci's own account, the drawings were taken by Belzoni, without him knowing, right before both left for an expedition to Berenice. Ricci quit after a quarrel with Belzoni and came back to discover his drawings were missing. When Belzoni came back, Henry Salt himself negotiated a settlement for Ricci, who therefore sold the drawings to the Paduan.

Bristol City Museum hosts the complete series of drawings made by Ricci, and other late (generally less accurate) copies, possibly for the London 1821 exhibition. A receipt for payment, copied by Sarah Belzoni, is also kept at the museum, clearly stating that Ricci got payed for his drawings:

Doctor Ricci received in Cairo previous to his departure 300, received at destination 356 received from Mr S[alt] 2,000 total 2,656. Drawing is 1,400 professional 256[4]

[4] BCM, Diary of Sarah Belzoni.

Belzoni himself wrote William John Bankes about the issue:

I shall take it as a favor if you would request the Doctor Ricci to send me a recept of the sume he resived [sic] in payment for his occupations for me, as well as medical assistance etc. etc. etc.[5]

[5] Dorset History Centre,William John Bankes Correspondence, D/BKL HJ 1/100.

Postcard sold at the Bristol City Museum, gathering in a row the depictions of the four human races according to the ancient Egyptians, followed by a falcon-headed god. The author of the drawing is stated to be Belzoni, while in fact it is Alessandro Ricci (©Bristol City Museum & Art Galleries).