LEAKE, William Martin. Travels in Northern Greece, vol. I, Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 1967.
Vice-coronel William Martin Leake (1777-1860) was a topographer, antiquarian and member of the society of the Dilettanti. He is considered one of the most systematic researchers of Greek territories. Leake studied in the Royal Military Academy, lived in India for four years and during his life became a member of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Geographic Society, and the Berlin Academy of Science.
From 1794 to 1815 Leake was on a government mission to the Ottoman empire, to promote the prospective political and military interests of the British Empire. Thus he mapped Egypt and the Nile waterfalls in 1801. He returned to Britan on a ship carrying part of the sculptures pillaged by Lord Elgin, and lost nearly all of his drawings and maps.
Later on, Leake studied the strategic possibilities of the Peloponnese, its roads and fortified positions. As official representative of Britain in the court of Ali Pasha, he made pioneering explorations of Northern Greece. Finally, he walked Western Asia Minor with unparalleled patience and endurance, and systematically charted its territory.
During his missions, Leake recorded every important feature of each area in his systematic, meticulous and precise style. He produced a plethoric work, comprised of the account of his travels (albeit with scarce references to himself), and historical and political expositions centered on the Greek world, both ancient and modern. In addition, Leake collected several antiquities, today housed in the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Leake returned to his home country at the age of 39. He devoted the rest of his life to organizing the material he had collected and to composing and publishing the accounts of his investigations.
His first journey to the Ottoman empire, after Egypt, started in December 1804. By February he had already toured Northern Epirus. He continued on to the Peloponnese, guided by the text of Pausanias. As he states in his text, he did not have sufficient time to locate all the places he wished to study. This first tour of southern Greek territory was completed in May of 1805. In June, he journeyed to the western part of continental Greece. Heading north, he explored almost all of Ali Pasha's territory, and eastern Pindus. He toured Thessaly, Boeotia and Phocis, and ended up in Patras. In February 1806 he started on his second journey to the Peloponnese, which was completed in August. He then sailed to the Ionian and Cyclades islands, the Northern Aegean sea and Mount Athos. He also travelled to eastern and central Macedonia.
In 1807, after the outbreak of the war between Britain and the Ottoman empire, Leake was held captive in Thessalonii for several months. He finally undertook the negotiations between Britain and Ali Pasha, and stayed for some time in Epirus, which he explored anew. He returned to Britain in March 1810. In 1814 started publishing his works, which include mainly archaeological treatises, but also a study on Modern Greek. In later years, he went on missions to Switzerland and was named professor of Oxford University.
Leake wrote articles, contributed to collective editions, edited travel accounts and wrote on the Greek War of Independence. He was a member of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society, and the Academies of Science of Berlin and Paris. Finally, at the age of seventy-nine, in 1856, he published the catalogue of his famous coin collection.
In the present work, Leake presents the itinerary of his four journeys and his observations on archaeology and on the contemporary economical and political situation in the places he visited. His journeys covered the regions of Epirus, Macedonia, Continental Greece, the Cyclades, Thessaly and Sporades islands. The following is a short review of Leake's itinerary. The first volumes narrates his journey in the following places: Albania, Avlona (Vlorë), the Acroceraunian mountains, Corfu, Argyrokastro (Gjirokastër), Tepeleni (with an extensive passage on Ali Pasha), Drynopolis, Antigoneia, Lykovo, Buthrotum (Butrint), Kalydon, Macyneia, Messolonghi, Pleuron, Vrachori, Thermo, Acheloos river, Stratos, Lysimacheia, Lepeno, Ambracia, Sparto, Bonitsa, Actium, Nicopolis, Arta, Arachthos river, Ioannina. Souli, Kleisoura, Kiafa, Zalongo, Cassope, Kalarites, Syrako, Grevena, Metsovo, Aliacmon river, Siatista, Kastoria, Bogatsiko, Korytsa, Apollonia, Monestir (Bitola), Berat, Ioannina, Premet, Zagoria, Voidomates river, Meteora, Kalambaka, Trikala, Larissa, Pharsala, Domokos, Xinias and Zitouni (Lamia). The appendix to the first volumes includes a biography of Ali Pasa and notes on Chania, Souli, Argyrokastro (Gjirokastër) and Nicopolis.
The second volume covers the following areas: Livadeia, Petra, Trifoneias, Skripou, Locris, Chaeronea, Thebes, Chalcis, Aulis, Lake Copais, Ptoon, Karditsa, Plataear, Agios Meletios, Dervenochoria, Athens, Attica (Megaris, Parnitha, Kifissia, Marathon, Rhamnous, Kalamos, Oropos), Leuctra, Thisbe, Agia Kyriaki, Mount Helicon, Hosios Loukas, Aspra Spitia, Delphi, Crisso, Amfissa, Lidoriki, Mornos river and Nafpaktos.
In the third volume of the work, Leake relates his tour of the following regions: Corfu, Syvota, Parga, Lefkada, Meganisi, Kalamos, Ithaca (Vathy, Aetos), Cephalonia, (Argostoli, Lixouri, Assos), Cythera, Milos, Paros, Antiparos, Naxos, Delos, Myconos, Skyros, Skopelos, Skiathos, Agios Efstratios, Alonnisos, Mount Athos, Ierissos, Sithonia, Stratoni, Stavros, Volvi lake, Strymon river, Orfani, Amphipolis, Serres, Philippoi, Thessaloniki, Axios river, Moglena, Edessa, Naousa, Veroia, Kozani, Servia, Elasson, Tyrnavos, Larissa, Ambelakia, Gonoi, Tempe, Platamon, Litochoro, Kitros, Preveza, Vonitsa, Acarnania, Anatolikon, Mesolongi, Trikardokastro, Oiniades and Kalydon.
The fourth volume includes the description of Echinades, Astakos, Aetos, Katouna, Vonitsa, Preveza, Actium, Mytika, Paramythia, Filiates, Konitsa, Zitsa, Thyami, Delvinaki, Ioannina (with thorough topographical description, references to the economic and social situation of the city and to Ali Pasha), Dodoni, Kalarrytes, Metsovo, Trikala, Farsala, Almyros, Pagasae, Volos, Mount Pelion, Velestino and Karditsa. The volume closes with a study of Ioannina in the fourteenth century.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou
- LEAKE, William Martin. Travels in Northern Greece, vols I-IV, Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 1967.
- LEAKE, William Martin. Travels in Northern Greece, vol. I, Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 1967.
Title page of the first part of the edition.
Plan of the Byzantine church of Agioi Saranta at Saranda, Albania. The plan was drawn by the author, based on the remains of the church.
Outline of fortification wall at Buthrotum, Albania.
Part of the fortifications of Thestiae, near Vlochos, Aetolia and Acarnania.
Map of ancient Nicopolis, showing the monument of Augustus, erected by Octavianus Augustus after his victory in Actium and dedicated to Apollo, Poseidon and Ares.
View the items in LEAKE, William Martin. Travels in Northern Greece, vol. I, Amsterdam, Adolf M. Hakkert, 1967.