From Siena to Nubia: Alessandro Ricci in Egypt and Sudan, 1817–22

From Siena to Nubia: Alessandro Ricci in Egypt and Sudan, 1817–22

AUC Press

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Daniele Salvoldi

A medical practitioner and talented draftsman, Alessandro Ricci was born in Siena, Italy, at the end of the eighteenth century. He traveled extensively throughout Egypt and Sudan between 1817 and 1822. During his stay, he worked as an epigraphist for Giovanni B. Belzoni in the tomb of Seti I and later entered into the service of British consul general Henry Salt and English explorer William John Bankes, on whose behalf he visited and documented Siwa (1820), Sinai (1820), and Nubia (181819 and 182122). Ricci also became the physician to Ibrahim Pasha's Upper Egypt expedition and achieved fame for daringly saving the life of Ibrahim Pasha during the military campaign that led to Egypts conquest of Sudan in 182122. Upon his return to Italy, Ricci wrote a long account of all his journeys and reworked a series of ninety plates into striking form, yet failed to publish either.

In 2009, Daniele Salvoldi identified a complete typewritten copy of Riccis Travels in the National Archives of Egypt in Cairo. Drawings intended to accompany the text as plates were tracked down in different locations in Italy and the United Kingdom. From Siena to Nubia is the English-translated critical edition, with notes and introductory chapters, of Riccis travel account, which provides detailed information about the countries he visited, including descriptions of ancient ruins and social customs, botanical and geological remarks, and historical and ethnographical observations. It adds to the recent, growing corpus of exploration literature on nineteenth-century Egypt as well as bringing to light obscure sources important to the early history of Egyptology.


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