Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2010

29 December 2010

Dawn of Discovery: The Early British Travellers to Crete. Richard Pococke, Robert Pashley and Thomas Spratt, and their Contribution to the Island’s Bronze Age Archaeological Heritage

Dudley Moore

Dawn of Discovery: The Early British Travellers to Crete. Richard Pococke, Robert Pashley and Thomas Spratt, and their Contribution to the Island’s Bronze Age Archaeological Heritage

City: Oxford

Year: 2010

Publisher: Archaeopress

Series: BAR International Series 2053

Description: Paperback, iv+174 pages, illustrated throughout with maps, plans, figures, drawings and photographs, 29,7x21 cm


It is intended to focus on three important British travellers to Crete during the 18th and 19th centuries to establish whether or not they wade any significant contribution to the field of research with regard to the archaeological heritage of Bronze Age Crete. It is an attempt to bring these ‘lost pioneers’ of antiquity to the fore and to recognize their efforts as part of the foundation of the discovery of the island’s Bronze Age archaeology prior to the groundbreaking excavations of Sir Arthur Evans. They arc Richard Pococke (1704-65), Robert Pashley (1805-59) and Thomas Spratt (1811-88).

Having dealt with the terms that these travelers used in describing ancient remains, the work will look briefly at the background to Bronze Age Crete itself. Thereafter the development from antiquarianism into archaeology will be followed to establish the motives behind these travellers’ wanderings in Crete. This will also involve a discussion of other British travellers to Crete and problems they may have encountered with an island in the throws of Ottoman turbulence.

In order to try and see what Pococke, Pashley and Spratt may have discovered, their footsteps have been followed around the island comparing their written accounts with what is physically there today. Consideration is then given to whether any sites they described might have been of the Bronze Age. This has not always been easy as the landscape of the island has changed over the years. However, in some cases, what has been found was indeed pertinent to the Bronze Age of Crete. In addition, various views of the mythical Labyrinth are looked at in an attempt to compound the theory that there may have been a certain belief in a period prior to the known Classical era (of the 5th century BC Greece) – even if the tales themselves were not accepted as fact. Views of British travellers to mainland Greece are compared to emphasize this belief. Finally, there is a discussion of the theories referred to in the earlier chapters.

Questions raised and hopefully, answered are: How do the travellers’ ‘field surveys’ and discoveries compare with what is now known today from excavation? Were some of their references to ‘Cyclopean’ stonework an identification of Bronze Age architecture? Do they deserve recognition for the identification of a prehistory of Crete? Why are their names missing from so many books on the history of archaeology and the discovery of Cretan archaeology?

This work will bring together, for the first time, an understanding of the views and comparative discoveries of three 18th and 19th century travellers of the, then, unknown ancient pre-history of Bronze Age Crete. It will conclude that they did indeed contribute to the realization of an earlier civilization than the Classical period even if it was not an exact knowledge as to what it might have been.


Abstract [ii]

Acknowledgements [iii]

Abbreviations [iv]

1. Introduction [1]

2. Background to Bronze Age Crete [5]

3. Early travellers and archaeology [9]

4. Richard Pococke [19]

5: Robert Pashley: The Traveller [23]

6. Robert Pashley: Travels in Crete, Vol. I [27]

7. Robert Pashley: Travels in Crete, Vol. II [33]

8. Thomas Spratt: The Traveller [37]

9. Thomas Spratt: Travels and Researches in Crete, Vol. 1 [43]

10. Thomas Spratt: Travels and Researches in Crete, Vol. II [55]

11. The Labyrinth [61]

12. Other British travelers [65]

13. Discussion [71]

14. Summary and Conclusion [75]



A: Maps [79]

B: Figures [91]

C: Gazetteer [141]

D: Pococke’s footnote [143]

E: Letters from Spratt [145]

F: Early foreign travellers’ observations of the ‘Labyrinth’ at Gortyns [153]

G: 1836 Report on the ‘Labyrinth of Crete’ [155]

H: Lithgow’s Crete [159]

I: Sandys’ Crete [163]

Bibliography [167]


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