Two hundred years of exploration set against the history of archaeology in Europe (1706–1911) by Monika Rekowska, translated by Anna Kijak. x+274 pages; illustrated throughout in colour and black & white. 223 2016. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784913205. Epublication ISBN 9781784913212. |
This work examines travellers’ accounts of their journeys to Cyrenaica, focusing in the main on an analysis of these accounts within the context of their significance to topographic surveys of the region. The dates given in the title symbolically mark their beginning and end. The starting date (1706) is that of the first journey across Cyrenaica that led to the writing of the first account extensive enough to be the subject of detailed analysis. The end date (1911) marks the beginning of the Italian occupation of Libya, when responsibility for archaeology was entrusted to the greatest Italian specialists of the period. Travelogues were replaced by scholarly studies featuring both well-known and newly discovered sites, while amateur descriptions and drawings were replaced by professional analysis and documentation.
The main protagonists of the book are people who travelled to Cyrenaica or stayed there for some time, people of a variety of ages and sorts: physicians and an engineer, priests, soldiers and diplomats, artists and adventurers, scholars and archaeologists. They differed considerably in their education, personalities, itineraries and objectives of their journeys, their wealth and personal circumstances. What they did have in common was great curiosity and courage, love of adventure and the ability to survive in harsh and dangerous conditions – compensated for by unusual discoveries – and, finally, an interest in ancient ruins, which for the purpose of this book is what makes their accounts valuable.
"This is another excellent contribution to the growing number of historiographic accounts of archaeological discoveries in the Mediterranean." – Susan Kane (Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Vol 5, No 1, 2017)
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