The Obelisk and the Englishman

The Obelisk and the Englishman

The Pioneering Discoveries of Egyptologist William Bankes

Book - 2015
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Scholarly, mischievous, and driven by curiosity about the unknown, William John Bankes (1786-1855) was a complex and talented member of England's landed gentry. A friend of Lord Byron, he achieved recognition on several fronts- as a daring explorer of ancient lands, notably Egypt and Petra; as a brilliant art collector, illustrator, and remodeler of Kingston Lacy, his family estate in Dorset; and, unfortunately, as the focus of a homophobic sex scandal, which forced him to leave his homeland.

Bankes made key discoveries as he explored the archeology and history of Egypt and Syria. He traveled deeper into Egypt and Nubia than any other European before him and prepared over 1,400 site plans and drawings of temples, many now lost to the sand or under the waters of the Nile. At the Abydos Temple he discovered the King List-a wall of cartouches listing Egyptian kings in chronological order-which was vital to the decoding of Egyptian hieroglyphs.a At Philae he uncovered a fallen obelisk, which he arranged to be transported back to England. And in modern-day Jordan he was the first European to make sketches and site plans of the olosto city of Petra.

William's life was rich and full, if not always comfortable and secure. In an era when homosexuality was a capital offense, he was persecuted for being gay and threatened with imprisonment and execution. But his pioneering work on ancient temples now enriches the knowledge of modern Egyptologists, and his art collection and decorative talents can be enjoyed by those who visit his home-with the obelisk from Philae still raised on the south lawn.

Enhanced by many of Bankes's drawings and paintings, this engaging story is full of vivid detail about the beginnings of Egyptology, Regency England, and a fascinating, multifaceted individual.
Publisher: Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books, 2015.
ISBN: 9781633880368
Branch Call Number: 932 BANKES
Characteristics: 304 pages, 16 un-numbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm.


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