Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


Sunday 26 December 2010

Dawn of Discovery: The early British travellers to Crete and their contribution to the discovery of the island’s Bronze Age archaeological heritage

Dudley Moore University of Sussex 2009

Dawn of Discovery: The early British travellers to Crete and their contribution to the discovery of the island’s Bronze Age archaeological heritage

Description: 2 volumes; 386 pages (112 pages of figures; 20 maps)

Country: United Kingdom

Supervisor: Prof. Peter Drewett

Other supervisors: Dr Richard Carter & David Rudling

Examiners: Prof. Brian Short & Dr Margarita Díaz-Andreu (Durham University)


This thesis will focus on three important British travellers to Crete during the 18th and 19th centuries to establish whether or not they made 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 work 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 are Richard Pococke (1704-1765), Robert Pashley (1805-1859) and Thomas Spratt (1811-1888).

Having dealt with methodology and the terms that these travellers 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 and a discussion of other British travellers to Crete and problems they my 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, I have followed their footsteps around the island comparing their written accounts with what is physically there today. I have then considered 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 I found was indeed pertinent to the Bronze Age of Crete. In addition, I have looked at the various views of the mythical Labyrinth in an attempt to compound my theory that there may have been a certain belief in a period prior to the known Classical era – even if the tales themselves were not accepted as fact. Finally, I have compared the views of British travellers to mainland Greece to emphasize this belief.

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 pre-history Crete? Why are their names missing from so many books on the history of archaeology and the discovery of Cretan archaeology?

With particular reference to Spratt, this work will bring together, for the first time, a comprehensive 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.


Volume I


1. Introduction [1]

2. Methodology [5]

3. Background to Bronze Age Crete [14]

4. Early travellers and archaeology [24]

Travellers’ motives [24]

Early British travellers to Crete [37]

Strife and turbulence in Crete [43]

5. Richard Pococke [47]

6: Robert Pashley: The Traveller [58]

7. Robert Pashley: Travels in Crete Vol I [64]

8. Robert Pashley: Travels in Crete Vol II [76]

9. Thomas Spratt: The Traveller [84]

10. Thomas Spratt: Travels and Researches in Crete Vol I [97]

11. Thomas Spratt: Travels and Researches in Crete Vol II [124]

12. The Labyrinth [138]

13. Other British travellers [147]

14. Discussion [162]

15. Summary and Conclusion [171]

Bibliography (and internet references) [178]


Volume II


A: Maps [1]

B: Figures (incorporating ‘fieldwork’) [33]

C: Gazetteer [145]

D: Wills [148]

E: Pococke’s footnote [155]

F: Place-names on Linear B [157]

G: Letters from Spratt [158]

H: Early foreign travellers’ observations of the ‘labyrinth’ at Gortyns [166]

I: Report on the Labyrinth of Crete 1836 [170]

J: Description of the Labyrinth (Anna Petrohilou) [173]

K: Lithgow’s Crete [178]

L: Sandys’ Crete [183]


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