May 12, 2012

Belzoni Tomb 1819 | Luxor - Walking Through Egypt

‘Belzoni’s Tomb,’ 1819
John Fuller

Belzoni Tomb
From Goumu a road leads up a ravine in the mountains to an open space surrounded on all sides by steep rocks, in which are excavated the tombs of the Egyptian kings. All of them that have hitherto been discovered are nearly on the same plan. A broad passage leads into one or more lofty saloons which are flanked by smaller chambers, and the walls are richly ornamented with paintings, alluding to the mysterious doctrines and ceremonies of the Egyptian religion, and showing at how early a period the human mind had begun to indulge in speculation as to its future state and destiny.

By far the most interesting of these sepulchres is that called the Tomb of Psammis [now known to be the tomb of Seti II, which had been recently opened by Belzoni, and is fully described in his work. Never having been disposed to the air or wanton injury, the paintings are in perfect preservation, and their colours are as brilliant as the first day they were put on. One apartment appears never to have been finished, as the figures all remain in outline; but this is so fresh, that it seems as if the artist had just quitted his work and was about to return to complete it.

The passage that leads into the tomb slopes downwards, and on the sides there are various groups of figures, among which is distinguished the deceased prince, who appears to be going through various initiatory ceremonies previous to being admitted into the society of the Gods. The passage opens into a vestibule supported by six massive square pillars, where the deities are represented welcoming the hero to their abodes, and Isis is presenting him with the crux ansata, the emblem of sovereignty. Within the vestibule is the apartment where the sarcophagus was deposited; a lofty oblong hall with a vaulted ceiling, on which are painted some uncouth figures, supposed to have reference to astronomy.

Entering a Tomb, 1888 
E.W. Merrick
We were told of a tomb in which, when first opened, the footprints of the slaves who carried the corpse in thousands of years before could plainly be seen on the sand.
Through their reading of classical texts by such writers as Herodotus, travelers knew of mummified people and creatures. They knew, too, of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Now the tourists’ presence encouraged the local people to seek, display, and sell the harvest of the mummy pits often to the dismay of the travelers. They were also led to reenter and wonder at tombs that no human being had seen for centuries, and often found them in a state of almost unbelievable preservation. Yet the mere presence of people who wanted to uncover antiquity carried an inevitable threat to that very past. In fact, some of these travelers used the tombs themselves as their temporary homes in Egypt.

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