Viaggiatori italiani in Egitto fra Cinquecento e Settecento. L'antico Egitto prima della nascita dell'Egittologia
Egypt, for its millenary history and culture, has attracted travelers and merchants from countries even far from the African continent since ancient times. In reality we have known the language and history of this ancient civilization for less than 200 years, since a young French philologist J.-F. Champollion discovered the key to reading hieroglyphic writing. Starting from the Napoleonic expedition of 1799, the interest in this people of the past was rekindled, triggering in Europe the first
... fects of what became a real Egyptomania. But before this rediscovery, favored by the splendid tables of the Description de l'Égypte, written by the savants following Napoleon, how was Egypt seen? For which reason it was interesting to travel to a country that for centuries had lost the role of cultural center of the Mediterranean, carried out in Antiquity? The first travelers in Egypt were obviously the Egyptians themselves who, towards the end of their civilization, could see vestiges in their country already thousands of years old, but it is on the period between the 16th and 18th centuries that we will focus our attention. In particular, in these three centuries, it will be possible to identify four categories of travelers: the merchant, the pilgrim, the scientist and, although quite rare, the traveler for his own pleasure. Through some examples of Italian travelers, we will try to "see" Egypt through their experiences and their words: we will thus see the beginnings of what will be Egyptology and Egyptomania. It will therefore not be a literary or philological analysis of the texts, but the search for those aspects that will slowly lead to the rediscovery of the Egyptian civilization, through the hidden and stolen treasures in the tombs or from the observation of monumental temples and pyramids.