If you're interested in the explorer and treasure hunter Belzoni then this new article on the Suite101 website may be of interest.
Giovanni Belzoni, the 19th-century explorer and Egyptian archaeologist, started out on his adventures as a circus strongman.
Giovanni Battista Belzoni, copyright expired
Howard Carter, the archaeologist who discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb, sums up Belzoni as "one of the most remarkable men in the history of archaeology" (Beese, 1999). Belzoni was a man “of good figure, gentlemanly manners, and great mind” (Thornbury, 1878), a "circus clown" but "of serious and lofty purpose, and imbued with the great desire of bettering the knowledge of the world" (Cooke, 1915).
Early Adventures of Belzoni
Born in 1778 to a barber of Padua, Italy, Giovanni Battista Belzoni, one of fourteen children, has always been of a “truant disposition”, an ardent reader of “Robinson Crusoe” with a “purpose of rambling” (Harpers 1851). As a young boy he travelled with his brother to Ferrara to seek his fortune. This was the first adventure of the 19th-century explorer from which he returned home in a bad state. But at 18 he left again this time for Rome to exercise the profession of his father.
In Rome Belzoni entered the Capuchin order and became a monk. It was there that he studied hydraulics and built an Artesian well for the Capuchins. When Napoleon occupied Rome in 1798, Belzoni escaped to the Netherlands where he earned a living as a barber as the Dutch were not interested in his hydraulic inventions. He did not know that hydraulics would prove useful to becoming an Egyptian archaeologist.
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