One of the first things that come to mind when standing in front of historical wonders such as pyramids is the fascination with these constructions. A splendor that deserves to be rediscovered, understood, and enhanced: after all, this is archeology. But what would you think if we told you that, in the past, the role of the archaeologist was much less attentive and precise than today, to the point of degrading precious testimonies without too much ceremony?
To prove it, we want to tell you the story of the Italian Giuseppe Ferlini, a man who, with the intention of exhuming ancient artifacts and treasures, practically demolished more than 40 thousand-year-old pyramids.
image credit: Unknown/Wikimedia
Bolognese by birth, Ferlini led an adventurous life, which led him to travel to the Balkans, Greece, and Egypt, where he served in the national army for the conquest of Sudan, also serving as a surgeon. We are in the first half of the 19th century, and the interest in Antiquity had already aroused the curiosity of many people, fascinated by archaeological treasures and the rediscovery of ancient civilizations.
Fellini’s stay in Egypt also had this purpose. Literally spellbound by the search for gold and precious treasures in these eastern countries, the Italian decided to devote his body and soul to the discovery of these remains. To carry out his mission and this task considered fundamental, he chose the site of Meroe, an ancient and fascinating city located on the eastern bank of the Nile, in present-day Sudan, capital of the Nubian kingdom of Kush.
image credit: Unknown/Wikimedia
A cet endroit précis que les anciens pharaons se sont des Inspirés Egyptiens ériger pour leurs pyramides . Although less ancient, smaller, and less well known than Egyptian works, these monumental works are just as precious and invaluable. When Ferlini became aware of the site and any treasures it might contain, he decided to begin excavations, in concert with Albanian merchant Antonio Stefani.
image credit: B N Chagny/Wikimedia
Accompanied by their wives, their servants, and their porters, they settled on the archaeological site in 1834 and began to unearth the treasures. Given the poor initial results, Ferlini decided to step up a gear and focus on the pyramids. So, after hiring about 500 local natives, he ordered their demolition with pickaxes.
The damage to beautiful structures continued unabated. From top to bottom, over 40 pyramids have been dismantled and destroyed . The findings, however, were not yet as astounding as Ferlini had anticipated. The greatest treasures have been found in the largest pyramid, known as N6. It was the tomb of Queen Amanishaketo , who reigned from 10 BC. AD to 1 AD. In addition to its sarcophagus, treasure hunters have found amulets, various jewelry and funerary objects .
image credit: TrackHD/Wikimedia
Fearing that the natives would ambush to steal the precious items, Ferlini and Stefani took whatever they could get their hands on, loaded the camels and fled at night, then moved up the Nile to Cairo. At this point, all that remained was to enjoy what they had found in Meroe. Between sales, donations and auctions , Ferlini’s treasure – or rather destroyed pyramids – ended up in different parts of Europe.
image credit: Sven-Steffen Arndt/Wikimedia
Although at the time there were many figures who, like Ferlini, carried out their “excavations” without any scientific consideration and still passed into history, the Bolognese is remembered today only for the destruction of the pyramids.
image credit: Valerian Guillot/Flickr
It is certainly astonishing today to read the account of his adventures, actions considered perfectly normal in a time that no longer exists, and which today – we are sure – would make any historian or archaeologist turn pale. .