Skip to main content

Belzoni, Giovanni Battista

Giovanni Battista Belzoni (jōvän´nē bät-tēs´tä bĕltsô´nē), 1778–1823, Italian adventurer and antiquities dealer. He began as a Capuchin monk and later sold religious goods and worked as a sideshow strongman. Belzoni lived (1803–12) in England where he invented a hydraulic machine, which he attempted to introduce into Egypt in 1815. He subsequently became involved in securing Egyptian antiquities in order to sell them to European collectors. He opened (1817) the rock temple of Abu-Simbel, and he discovered (1817) the tomb of Seti I at Thebes. Active at a time before the emergence of scientific archaeology and the government protection of Egyptian antiquities, Belzoni was a major participant in the recovery of Egyptian monuments and antiquities that took place in the early 19th cent. at the behest of European collectors, museums, and governments. It resulted in the removal of many Egyptian treasures to Europe and the destruction and disruption of numerous monuments and much archaeological material. His exploits are recorded in his Narrative (1820).

See biographies by S. Mayes (1961) and I. N. Hume (2011); B. Fagan, The Rape of the Nile (1977).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Belzoni, Giovanni Battista." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 14 Dec. 2018 <>.

"Belzoni, Giovanni Battista." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (December 14, 2018).

"Belzoni, Giovanni Battista." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved December 14, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.