Corfu and Albania

Some ASTENE members may not realise that our borders go around the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, embracing Greece, the Ottoman Balkans and the Arabian Peninsula as well as Egypt, Turkey, the Levant and the Mesopotamian region.

Following our recent fascinating trip up the Nile, our next proposed visit is to Corfu, southern Albania and northern Greece: ‘in the footsteps of Byron and Leake’, including their involvement with Ali Pasha and other travellers in the area. Professor Malcolm Wagstaff, who has generously agreed to lead the group, is finalising details for this 8-day trip, organised in conjunction with Sunvil Travel and planned for May/June 2010. It will include a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage excavations at Butrint in Albania, as well as a stay in the lakeside Greek city of Ioannina.

If you have not yet joined one of our ASTENE trips abroad you are missing out on a very special experience. We envisage a maximum group of 20, so please register an initial interest with ASTENE Events Organiser Elisabeth Woodthorpe (telephone/fax 020 7622 3694) as soon as possible, so that we can take things forward.

Updating Who Was Who in Egyptology

Research Resource

Dr Morris Bierbrier has started work on updating that wonderful tool for ASTENE members, Who Was Who in Egyptology.

Originally put together by Warren R. Dawson and published by the Egypt Exploration Society in 1931, it was updated by Morris and re-issued in 1995 – with some assistance from ASTENE members. No ASTENE member researching Egyptian travellers can afford to be without its meticulously compiled information. I give as an exemplar one of the shorter entries on a well known traveller:

MANGLES, JAMES (1786–1867) British naval officer and explorer; he was probably born at Hurley, Berks, 1786, the son of John M. and Harriet Camden; he entered the Navy, 1800, and saw much service until 1815 when he held the rank of Capt; he visited Egypt, Nubia, Syria and Palestine with the Hon. Charles Irby (q.v), 1817–18; FRS 1825; he died in Fairfield, Exeter, 18 Nov. 1867.

Morris asks ASTENE members to supply any new information they have discovered in their researches. He can be contacted c/o

Egypt Exploration Society
3 Doughty Mews

He would like to include more photographs of the people discussed; if anyone has photos or portraits to submit, please send them to Morris at the EES or, if scanned, to

The ASTENE Bibliography

Research Resource

Diane Bergman, the Griffiths Librarian of the Sackler Library, Oxford University has over the past months been putting together a bibliography of the many, many publications by ASTENE members in the region of the eastern Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula between 1997 and the present. It is a fascinating collection of material, showing the very varied, but still interlinked work of our members.

This bibliography will shortly go onto the ASTENE website – to be added to as members and ASTENE continue to research and to publish.

Should you wish to up-date your entry or you have not included your publications, contact Diane Bergman at , or or write to her at the

Sackler Library
St John Street

Travellers in the Near East

The selection of papers from ASTENE’s Edinburgh Conference edited by Charles Foster and published by Stacey International is available again from all good booksellers ( £18.99) and at ASTENE events. ISBN 1900988 712.

It includes the following articles:

  • A Tale of Two Ciceros: Travels in Asia Minor in the late Roman Republic by Marcha B. McCoy
  • Mercantile Gentlemen and Inquisitive Travellers: Constructing the Natural History of Aleppo by Janet Starkey
  • Jean-Baptiste Adanson (1732-1804): A French Dragoman in Egypt and the Near East by Jen Kimpton
  • The Journey of the Comte Forbin in the Near East and Egypt, 1817-18 by Pascale Linant de Bellefonds
  • Travellers, Tribesmen and Troubles: Journeys to Petra, 1812-1914 by Norman Lewis
  • Surveying the Morea: The French Expedition, 1828-1832 by Malcolm Wagstaff
  • Le Mission Scientifique de Moree: Captain Peytier’s Contribution by Elizabeth French
  • Christian Rassam : Translator, Interpreter, Diplomat and Liar by Geoffrey Roper
  • Mr and Mrs Smith in Greece, Egypt and the Levant by Brenda Moon
  • Robert Murdoch Smith and the Mausoleum: Excavations at Halicarnassus (Bodrum) 1856-59 by Jennifer Scarce
  • Listening to the Sound of Running History: Sir George Adam Smith, 1856-1942 by Rev Iain Campbell
  • Politics and Travel of Gertrude Bell by Richard Long

The Danish Institute in Damascus

The Danish Institute in Damascus was established in 1996 to preserve and develop cultural links between Denmark and Arab and Islamic countries. Its aim is to stimulate research, education and the promotion of culture, classical as well as modern. The Institute carries out these objectives by supporting Danish artists and scholars engaged in archaeology, history, literature, architecture and other areas. The Institute supports and initiates publication of such subjects.

The Institute at the beautiful, late 15th century ‘Aqqud-house, a short distance from the Omayyad Mosque, has rooms for visiting scholars and areas for lectures and meetings. The library has been transferred from the Danish Palestine Exploration Fund at Aarhuis. For further information, including pictures of the beautifully restored ‘Aqqud-house see The address is

P.O. Box 1262

The Ancient Ass

New Scientist in March 2008 had an interesting brief report of research on the donkeys of Egypt – a form of travel for many centuries. A study of 5000-year-old skeletons from ancient burial sites indicate that modern day donkeys are descended from domesticated African wild asses. These bones resemble the modern day, larger Nubian and Somali wild asses. The researcher, Fiona Marshall of Washington University, St Louis, Missouri is quoted: “The engine of the Egyptian state … was the donkey.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/prias .0709692105).

The British Institute for the Study of Iraq

Research Resource

As many members will be aware, the British Academy has recently cut its funding to a number of organisations working in the ‘ASTENE region’, notably the Egypt Exploration Society and the Society for Libyan Studies. One of those hardest hit has been the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial) which was founded in1932.

After 75 years of work in Iraq, the School has decided to change its name to The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial). Although the archaeology and ancient languages of Iraq remain central to the Institute’s remit, the change in name is to reflect the broadening of its areas research in recent years. Details of its activities, fund-raising events, and publications can be found on

The secretary is Joan Porter MacIver and the postal address is;

The British Academy
10 Carlton House Terrace