Egypt: Rediscovering a Lost World (2005) BBC

The Pharaoh and the Showman (6/7)

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Video Description

Episodes 3 and 4 - The Great Belzoni - tell the story of Italian engineer and circus strongman Giovanni Belzoni who became the most unlikely Egyptologist the world has ever seen. Turning up numerous great finds he always found himself travelling in the footsteps of Ramesses the Great and flashbacks to the Pharaoh's life are intercut into the story. In "The Pharaoh and the Showman", a dissatisfied Belzoni leaves England with his wife, Sarah, and servant, James Curtin, to see the world. Finding themselves destitute in the streets of Cairo after work on an irrigation project falls through they are rescued by the eccentric John Lewis Bukhardt who introduces them to British Consul Henry Salt. Belzoni is hired to recover the massive Head of Memnon, later revealed to a statue of the Pharaoh Ramesses the Great, as a gift for the British Museum. Arriving in Luxor in 1816 amidst a gold rush of black market antiquities dealers Belzoni finds himself unwelcome. At the Ramesseum Belzoni examines the head and devises a plan for its removal. The local Caimakan, under advice from Belzoni's French rival Bernardino Drovetti, denies Belzoni's permit and initially refuses to supply labour until threats bring him around. Ramesses marriage to his true love Nefertari was fruitful and secured the family line and the country too was fertile thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile. The approaching flood season however threatens to strand the head in the heart of the flood plain bringing an abrupt halt to Belzoni's mission. When the local labourers finally arrive Belzoni immediately sets to work moving the head using the same techniques its builders had used 3,000 years previous. Belzoni sends the ailing Jim back to Cairo to request a bigger boat so that they can collect even more antiquities and with time running out is forced to take greater risks to get the head to the bank of the Nile.

With the head secured the Belzonis heads south along the Nile to Abu Simbal in uncharted Nubia to expand the collection of antiquities. Ramesses built two temples at Abu Simbal; one dedicated his beloved wife and the other to his military prowess in the first victorious campaign. Belzoni locates the entrance to the Great Temple but finds it blocked, and so forced to head back to Cairo he vows to return to excavate the site the following season.

Source: Wikipedia

Documentary Description

For the first time on British television, the stories of these amazing and truly unique individuals are brought to life in a six-part historical drama-documentary series, which will reveal how the mysteries of Ancient Egypt were uncovered piece by piece by these three incredible men. The first two, hour-long episodes feature the life and work of Howard Carter, the man who finally uncovered the resting place of Tutankhamun. The third and fourth episodes follow the archaeological adventures of Giovanni Belzoni - a real-life Indiana Jones – as he battles with his French counterpart to be the first to discover lost tombs and fantastic treasures. In the final episodes, the series follows Jean-François Champollion as he struggles to be the first to decipher Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Source: BBC

Egypt is the title of a BBC television drama serial about various archaeological discoveries taking place in that country's history, with the occasional 'flashback' scene involving actors portraying the ancient Egyptians themselves. Focusing on three of the most important discoveries from the world of the ancient Egyptians, this series journeys back in time to explore Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, the Great Belzoni's finds from the reign of Ramesses II and Champollion's deciphering of the hieroglyphs. Join Carter, Belzoni and Champollion as they overcome immense obstacles to unlock the secrets of an as-yet undiscovered world and reveal their seminal finds. Then travel even further back, to the amazing period of history unveiled by their astounding work. The hour-long show originally aired on Sunday nights at 9pm on BBC1 in 2005. The first two episodes explored the work of Howard Carter and his archaeological quest in Egypt in the early part of the twentieth century. The next two episodes focused on the eccentric explorer "The Great Belzoni", played by Matthew Kelly. The final two episodes dramatise the discovery and deciphering of the Rosetta Stone by Jean-François Champollion, who is played by Elliot Cowan. Source: Wikipedia


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