After briefly studying hydraulics in Rome, the young Belzoni spent several years leading a vagabond existence and eventually ended up in London as a professional muscleman. Traveling with a troupe of entertainers, Belzoni was on his way to Constantinople when he learned there was a need for hydraulic engineers in Egypt. While there, he befriended the British consul, who eventually offered him a position working in archaeology for the British government. Belzoni's discoveries, many of which are now housed in the British Museum, made him a celebrity in England. Over time his interest turned from the recovery of individual objects to the excavation and recording of monuments. Upon his return to Europe in 1819, Belzoni wrote of his archaeological discoveries in his "Narrative of the Operations and Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids," which was published along with a set of forty-four images that he faithfully copied from various Egyptian tombs. The book was a tremendous success and was soon translated into French and Italian as well as edited into a smaller edition aimed at a more popular audience.
Illustrated: title page and frontispiece with a lithograph portrait of G. Belzoni