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Henry Salt (1780-1827)

Henry Salt was born in Lichfield, England on 14 July 1780. He was the youngest of the eight children of Thomas Salt, a doctor. Henry Salt initially trained as a portrait painter in London. In 1802 he accompanied the Viscount Valentina as secretary and draughtsman on a tour of the east, including Abyssinia (modern Ethiopia) and Egypt. He was sent back to Abyssinia in 1809-11 by the government to establish diplomatic and trading links.

In 1816 Salt arrived in Egypt as British Consul-General. His position gave him unique opportunities to pursue his interest in the monuments and antiquities of Egypt. He employed men such as Giovanni Belzoni to excavate at sites including Thebes, Giza and Abu Simbel. Henry Salt also collected a large number of artefacts; he was responsible for engaging Belzoni to move the upper part of a colossal statue of Ramesses II from Thebes, known as the 'Younger Memnon', now in The British Museum. Most of the antiquities Salt collected were purchased by The British Museum and the Louvre, Paris.

In 1825, Salt published an essay on the deciphering of hieroglyphs, a subject at the forefront of research at the time. In 1827, in the Delta village of Desuke, Salt died of a spleen infection, a problem that had affected him since a childhood illness. He was buried in Alexandria.

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