Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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In Egypt with Belzoni

Now that I am free of the work for my Client from Hell and missing my payment (oh, the bank will love it!), I can start work on a new project whose contract I signed last week – an historical adventure, featuring the Great Belzoni.

In cased you missed him – hard, considering he was six foot seven inches tall, and wide in proportion – Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian former student of divinities, adventurer, antiquarian, hydraulic engineer, egyptologist, stage magician and fairground strongman, that soon after Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt conducted a series of excavations along the Nile – basically because his work as an hydraulic engineer for the local administration had fizzed.

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Mister and Miss Belzoni

I was absolutely sure I had done a post about The Great Belzoni, but I was unable to find it.
It’s becoming unnerving, this thing that I get an idea for a post, plan it and write it in my mind, and then forget about actually writing it. I am damn scared of Alzheiner, you know…

Portrait_of_Giovanni_Belzoni_by_Jan_Adam_Kruseman,_1824Anyway, here’s the guy, portrayed in all his barbaric style and Oriental mystery.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni was born in Padua in 1778, but his family was from Rome, and in Rome he studied hydraulics. He flirted with the idea of joining a monastery, fled when Napoleon conquered the city and ended up as a barber in the Netherlands.
From there he moved to London, met and married a woman named Sarah Bane, and they both joined a circus – Belzoni was 6 foot 7 inches, and got a gig as a strongman, but he later got into phantasmagorias and light shows.
During a tour of southern Europe in the early 1810s, Belzoni became acquainted with Muhammad Ali, and went to Egypt to demonstrate a hydraulic machine of his own devising, that would be used to pump water from the Nile.
The machine worked but he was not hired, and therefore he found himself in Egypt, and without a job.
Someone suggested he should look into the local antiques. Continue reading