In 1818 no-one knew what lay inside the second great pyramid at Giza; that of the pharaoh Khafre. The entrance on the northern face lay under sand and rubble.
Then along came Giovanni Belzoni, an Italian adventurer who had turned to archaeology for a living. He decided that he was right man for the job and that failure was not an option:
“I was confident that a failure in such an attempt would have drawn on the laughter of all the world for my presumption in such a task.” – Giovanni Belzoni.
Belzoni needn’t have worried. He found the entrance that had eluded other explorers, and two weeks later, March 2, 1818, was able to make his way into the pyramid’s burial chamber. Unfortunately others had been there too – and on more than one occasion. Long before, robbers had burrowed their own entrance through the pyramid and emptied it of its contents.
At the west end of the burial chamber Belzoni discovered an empty sarcophagus and Arabic writing which said that the pyramid had been opened in the time of King Ali Muhammad, approximately 1200 A.D.
As was popular with early explorers, Belzoni prominently recorded his name in the Burial Chamber, where they can still be seen today: “Scoperta da (Discovered by) G. Belzoni. 2. Mar. 1818.”
Photo: Jeffrey Ross Burzacott