2 FERLINI, G./ archaeological discoveries in Nubia 106


Description: One of the first and most spectacular archaeological discoveries in Nubia”

FERLINI, Giuseppe.
Relation historique des fouilles opérées dans la Nubie.

Rome, Salviucci, 1838. 4to. Original publisher’s buff paper wrappers, printed letterpress, with a decorative frame on the front (with the title and author) and back (with the address of the author’s collection), and rules on the spine. With a wood-engraved vignette on the title-page showing 2 archaeologists in the field, a folding engraved plate showing 22 numbered figures, and 3 wood-engraved tailpieces showing artefacts. With decorated titling capitals in the title and headings. 51, [1] pp.

First French edition of Giuseppe Ferlini’s illustrated account of his discovery of the undisturbed tomb in what we now know was the pyramid of Amanishakheto, Kandrake (Queen) of the Nubian kingdom of Kush (reigned ca. 10 BC-ca. 1 AD), with descriptions and illustrations of the remarkable treasures he found in it, first published in Italian in 1837. This was a rare example of a tomb that had remained undisturbed for nearly 2000 years.
Ferlini (ca. 1800-1876), Surgeon Major to the Egyptian army, was posted to Sudan in 1830. In Khartoum he heard tales of extraordinary riches in the ancient tombs, gave up his post and spent much of his fortune on archaeological excavations in hopes of finding treasure. He set off from Khartoum in 1834 to the ancient ruins of Naqa or Naga near the Nile, northeast of Khartoum, but meeting no success there turned to the pyramids at Begrawiya, near Meroë, capital of the ancient Kush Kingdom. The first few proved to have been plundered, but he finally came to the pyramid of Amanishakheto. He had his Sudanese workmen tear the pyramid apart, destroying much of it, and soon found extraordinary treasures, many of gold. He tried to keep his finds hidden from the workmen, but before he had finished the excavations they suspected he had found valuables and threatened him. He and his partner managed to escape with most of what they had found to that time. He sold part of his collection to Ludwig I, King of Bavaria (now in the Egyptian Museum of Munich), but the greater part, first kept in his own home, went to the Egyptian Museum of Berlin soon after the present publication. The pyramid was excavated again in 1921 when some additional materials were found, but most of what Ferlini left behind had since been plundered. Ferlini is thought to have misrepresented the exact location where he found the treasures (putting them in a chamber at the top of the pyramid, rather than in the base), perhaps still hoping to return for more himself, but his account remains an essential primary source for the reconstruction of the pyramid and its treasures.
With the author’s presentation inscription on the front wrapper, to “Sigr. Mar: Melchiori”, probably Marchese Giuseppe Melchiorri (1796-1855). With a marginal water stain in the lower inside corner, not approaching the text, and minor foxing, but still in very good condition and wholly untrimmed, preserving all deckles and point holes and leaving very large margins. The wrapper shows minor marginal stains but is also very good. A tale of adventure and an important record of one of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries between Pompeii and Tutankhamun.
C.G. Carus, “Discoveries in the Nubian pyramids”, The dial, 3 (1843), pp. 314-326; Ist. Cent. Cat. Unico (2 copies); Bertha Porter, Topographical bibliography of Ancient Egypt VII (1975), p. 245; for Ferlini and his finds: Y. Markowitz & P. Lacovara, “The Ferlini treasure in archeological perspective”, in: Journal of the American Research Center, 33 (1996), pp. 1-9.
  • Number: 1060812 (G9OBC56G8QN4)
  • Dealer: Speculum Orbis Nauticum