Ashmunein

19th century pictures

The Photographic Archive contains about 2000 images related to different Egyptian archaeological sites.

Over the years, the Museo Egizio has acquired numerous 19th Century prints of photographs relating to Egypt, taken by professionals. After the invention of photography (the daguerreotype dates back to 1839), from the second half of the 19th century, several photographers arrived in Egypt in search of subjects to immortalise. They worked along the Nile, as far as Nubia, documenting the landscape, antiquities, ancient and modern monuments with their equipment. Their activity soon became very well known, the photographers sold prints of their photographs to tourists and enthusiasts, giving a great boost to the knowledge and discovery of the Egyptian territory (including the medieval period) outside the country, especially in Europe and America. On an archaeological level, these photographs well document the state of preservation of ancient monuments, many of which still needed to be cleaned from the sands that still partially covered them. Other photographs document the original context in which the ancient monuments were built. This is very important for the Nubian temples that, in the 1960s, due to the rising waters of Lake Nasser, following the construction of the Aswan Dam, were either moved to high ground sheltered from the waters, or donated, and taken out of the country, for the help of some nations in the work of documenting Nubia and saving the temples themselves. Prominent among the photographers in the collection are the figures of A. Beato, F. Bonfils and V. R. Lanzone.

Antonio Beato (1825-1906) was an Italian-British photographer. Unfortunately we do not have a very detailed biography (often confused with that of his brother Felice, also a photographer and active in the East), what is known is that he travelled extensively mainly in the Near East, before stopping in Egypt in the late 1850s. From 1862 he had a permanent photographic studio in Luxor, near the temple of Amun.

Félix Bonfils (1831-1885) was a French photographer and bookbinder. His work as a photographer was mainly concentrated in the Near East, especially in Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Greece. One of his most important works was published between 1877 and 1888, Souvenir d'Orient, a collection in five photo albums of his shots: views, landscapes and monuments. The first and second are dedicated to Egypt and Nubia.

Vittorio Ridolfo Lanzone (1834-1907) was an Italian Egyptologist and amateur photographer. In the 1860s he took numerous photographs, mainly in Cairo and the Giza plain. In Italy, he worked at the Regio Museo di Antichità ed Egizio under the direction of A. Fabretti, until 1894-95, and edited some papyri in the Turin Museum, as well as the Dictionary of Egyptian Mithology (1881-1886).