ASTENE organises various events throughout the year in order to allow members to have access and to learn about the lives, homes and collections formed by early travellers. 

This page provides information about upcoming events and those which have taken place over the years. For more information about ASTENE’s events, please contact  our events organiser Dr Jacke

Upcoming Events 

(ASTENE Sponsored) 

Conference: Eastern Questions: New Perspectives on British Orientalism

16-17th October 2019

A collaborative two-day conference at Royal Holloway, University of London and Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village

This interdisciplinary symposium, a collaboration between Watts Gallery Artists’ Village (WG-AV) and Royal Holloway (University of London), aims to explore new perspectives on the intersection between Orientalism and visual culture across the nineteenth century. This two-day conference coincides with John Frederick Lewis: Facing Fame, the latest exhibition at WG-AV.

The conference will take place over two days 16 – 17 October 2019 at two venues:

16 October 2019: Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village (Compton, Surrey, GU3 1DQ)

17 October 2019: Royal Holloway, University of London, (Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX)

Each day includes papers and discussions, which explore the visual material of the Orient in the contexts of transculturation, imaginative geographies, and cultural border crossing in both directions.

Alongside the works on display within John Frederick Lewis: Facing Fame, the collection of so-called ‘uncomfortable pictures’ at Royal Holloway (including Edwin Long’s Babylonian Marriage Market) will act as a catalyst for wide-ranging debates around Orientalism’s place within British scholarship today. In addition to 20 minutes papers, there will be a series of pop-up debates that will take place within the gallery spaces.

Please click the link below for a provisional programme:

Eastern Questions Provisional Programme

To book, click here:

For more information please see:

ASTENE Seminar: September 2020

 A two-day ASTENE Seminar entitled:

‘Egyptologist Robert Hay (1799–1863) and friends in Egypt’

Robert_Hay_in_turkish_costumeTuesday 8th – Wednesday 9th September 2020

New ASTENE dates for your diary. As our Chairman Neil Cooke explains in his Annual Report, Robert Hay’s travels and records were a substantial impetus for founding ASTENE. Hay was a Scottish traveller, antiquarian and Egyptologist. Born in Duns Castle, Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders, he first visited Alexandria in 1818. In 1824 in Rome, he hired Joseph Bonomi the Younger (1796–1878) as his artist to accompany him to Egypt as part of a vast project to record monuments and inscriptions and make architectural plans. Hay stayed in Egypt from November 1824 to 1828 and again from 1829 to 1834. Hay also employed Edward William Lane and Frederick Catherwood as artists and was a fine water-colourist himself.  His other friends included James Burton, Henry Salt, Gardner Wilkinson,  and many others who have been discussed at ASTENE conferences and in our publications over the years.


His manuscripts are in the British Library and his plaster casts and collection of Egyptian antiquities are in the British Museum, though some artefacts were purchased by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1872. He married Kalitza Psaraki (d.1885), the daughter of the chief magistrate of Apodhulo, Crete, in May 1828 in Malta on the way back to Scotland. Like many others, Kalitza was captured during the Greek war of independence (1821-1829) and transported to Egypt and it was from the slave market in Alexandria that Robert Hay rescued her. They went on to have three children: she even accompanied Hay on his subsequent expeditions to Egypt.

2020 will be the 700-year anniversary of the founding of Duns Castle where members of the Hay family have lived for several centuries, so it is an entirely appropriate and wonderful venue to hold a Seminar about Robert Hay and his friends. We will keep you updated as the plans develop.  After 20 years it is time to reassess the substantial record of the Hay era of travel and the impact that Hay and his friends had on the development of Egyptology and on our understanding of Egypt. Any ideas about speakers, sessions and topics to or any others on the committee would be most welcome.

For more information, please contact the seminar organisers:


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