Wandering Scholars: D.G. Hogarth and the Art of Travel
David George Hogarth first arrived at the British School at Athens in 1887, only a few months after it began operation; more students soon followed in his wake. However, unlike his fellow students, Hogarth was attracted to a field outside mainstream Classical or Byzantine subjects. As a result, he spent time in Asia Minor under the guidance of Professor William Ramsay, a great traveller and, at the time, the foremost authority in Britain on the history of Asia Minor. After his BSA studentship, Hogarth continued to explore parts of Asia Minor with Ramsay who, as Hogarth claims, taught him the “art of travel”. This “art of travel” can be defined as trained observation and detailed recording while exploring (often remote) territories. Of particular, although not exclusive, interest for these wandering scholars was documenting historic routes and copying inscriptions that often marked those routes: elements of historical geography.
To capitalise on this “art of travel” and to bring archaeological exploration to the public’s attention, Hogarth published three autobiographical books covering the course of his early career. The first was Devia Cypria, the second, Wandering Scholars in the Levant and the third, Accidents of an Antiquary’s Life. According to Amara Thornton in her book, Archaeologists in Print, Hogarth was not alone in producing such popular books. Thornton indicates that these late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century autobiographical books by archaeologists appealed to the public with stories that contained elements of popular fiction of the time: romance, adventure and danger. Additionally, the books were often illustrated with photographs, further enhancing the public experience of the subject. Numerous images of Hogarth’s expeditions survive in the BSA SPHS Image collection, a few of which were published in his books. They are in various states of preservation and contain original film negatives, glass copy negatives and glass lantern slides.
Devia Cypria is about his solitary journey around Cyprus in 1888 after excavating as a member of the BSA excavation at Paphos-Kouklia. A number of images used in this book were taken by R. Elsey Smith who was also at Paphos-Kouklia. Elsey Smith’s photographs were part of another BSA Archive Story Rule II and the Origins of the SPHS Photographic Collection.
In 1896, Hogarth published A Wandering Scholar in the Levant which included a chapter on Cyprus, overlapping with Devia Cypria. But, most of the book detailed his early journeys in Asia Minor. During his explorations of various parts of Asia Minor, Hogarth usually travelled in the company of other scholars. In 1891, John Arthur Ruskin Munro travelled with him from “Mersina across to Samsun on the Black Sea”, traversing the Eastern Taurus Mountains. They were looking for Hittite monuments, inscriptions, ancient routes and any other incidental antiquities or historical monuments, recording them as they went.
During this journey they had a number of adventures, recounted with dry humour by Hogarth. A few of the incidents are alluded to in Munro’s BSA SPHS images. They were robbed, stripped and strapped to trees near the site of Comana (Cappadocia) where Munro photographed the remains of the ancient city. At Elbistan, they encountered local resistance in recording Hittite inscriptions and a certain amount of guile was employed in photographing the Izgın obelisk on the pretext of taking a portrait of officials at the Government building. Note that the focus is on the inscription and that many of the officials had been partly cropped out of the scene. And an image captioned “Explorer in Quarantine” marked an episode outside Kahramanmaraş during an dangerous epidemic of cholera where they were forced to halt. Notice the basic accoutrements of travel included a rifle, seen in the image propped against the tent opening. Soon after their return to Britain, Hogarth and Munro presented a paper on their journey to the Geographical Society, highlighting evidence for ancient routes.
Three years later, in 1894, Hogarth was once again travelling in Asia Minor, following the Upper Euphrates trail with Vincent W. Yorke and others. The primary aim of this journey, which was funded by the Asia Minor Exploration Fund, was to record evidence and refine knowledge of Roman and later routes along the Western Euphrates. In 1895 Yorke presented a paper on the journey to the Geographical Society, published in the following year. Two photographs by Yorke of this journey can be seen below.
Munro and Yorke had both been students at the BSA in the 1890s. Later, Munro would become the Rector of Lincoln College in Oxford and Yorke, who went into finance, would become Honorary Treasurer for both the SPHS and the BSA. The BSA SPHS collection contains negatives from Munro and Yorke from these early expeditions, a few of which are published in A Wandering Scholar in the Levant.
A year after the publication of A Wandering Scholar and ten years after he first arrived at the BSA, Hogarth became its Director (1897-1900). Just prior to settling into this position, Hogarth explored numerous sites in Lycia including Myra, Patara and Xanthos. This is where his next autobiographical book, Accidents of an Antiquary’s Life begins. Another BSA student, John George Clark Anderson, was his companion on the journey from Athens, via Smyrna and Castellorizo, to the Lycian coast of Southeastern Turkey.
Soon after his BSA directorship ended, Hogarth was travelling again. A cruise in 1904, onboard the Utowana, took Hogarth and his American companions along the Satalian Gulf. Later, the Utowana would sail further afield to the forbidden territory of Cyrenaica in Libya, an area (at that time) closed for foreign exploration.
Based on his reputation as a traveller and expert on the East, Hogarth was invited by the British Museum to excavate at the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus in 1904-5. The excavation is a topic of the chapters in Accidents of an Antiquary’s Life. Here, he was following in the footsteps of J.T. Wood (the subject of a previous BSA Archive Story, J.T. Wood’s Ephesus through the lens of Corporal J. Trotman). Unfortunately, none of the images of Ephesus from Hogarth’s excavations exist in the BSA SPHS collection.
In 1908, after a return visit to the Euphrates, he succeeded Arthur Evans as Keeper in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. This appointment marks the end of the wandering antiquary’s early travels. The images in the BSA SPHS collection provides a record of historical explorations of what were – at the time – little known places. They are also supplementary visual complements to the “art of travel” told in lively prose in these autobiographical books that cover Hogarth’s journeys from 1888 to 1908.
Images from the BSA-SPHS collection are available on the BSA’s Digital Collections.
Honorary Research Fellow
Department of Archaeology
Hogarth, D.G. 1889. Devia Cypria. OUP: Oxford
Hogarth, D.G. and J.A.R. Munro, 1893. ‘Modern and Ancient Roads in Eastern Asia Minor’ Supplementary Papers of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. III pt. V, pp. 643-739.
Hogarth, D.G. 1896. A Wandering Scholar in the Levant. London: John Murray.
Hogarth, D.G. 1910. Accidents of an Antiquary’s Life. London: Macmillan & Co.
Ramsay, W.M. 1890. The Historical Geography of Asia Minor London: John Murray.
Thornton, A. 2019, Archaeologists in Print: Publishing for the People, London: UCL Press.
Yorke, V.W. 1896. ‘A Journey in the Valley of the Upper Euphrates’ Geographical Journal 8(5): 453-472.