FELLOWS, Sir Charles. A Journal written during an Excursion in Asia Minor, London, John Murray, 1839.


Sir Charles Fellows (1799-1860) was a British archaeologist. From the age of fourteen he was drawing sketches that later appeared on the title-page of a book on the life of Lord Byron. From 1820 he lived in London, where he became an active member of the British Association. After his mother died in 1832, he spent long periods abroad, travelling in Italy, Greece and the East. Fellows drew the illustrations of Byron’s "Childe Harold".

In 1832 he settled in Smyrna, from where he started his explorations in parts of Asia Minor till then unfamiliar to Western travellers, such as Lycia, Mysia, Bithynia, Phrygia, Pisidia, Pamphylia and Caria. A daring traveller, in 1838, 1839 and 1848 he made three expeditions to the hitherto unknown Lycian country (River Xanthos, Tlos, Telmessos, Myra, Olympus, Patara, etc.), together with a large team of assistants, removing a great number of antiquities on behalf of Britain. In June 1842 alone, seventy-two cases with sculptures and architectural members were transported.

In the following years Fellows published three works with the findings of his forays, not always scientifically documented. The antiquities that Fellows had shipped home are today in the British Museum and are known generally as the “Xanthian Marbles”. Fellows was knighted for his services to Britain and in particular the acquisition of the Xanthian sculptures. He also collected inscriptions and natural history specimens. All Fellows’ travels and expeditions were at his own expense.

This particular publication, a description of Fellows’ first trip to Asia Minor, was instrumental in getting the British Museum authorities to ask the British ambassador in Constantinople to request a permit from the Sultan to transport Lycian antiquities from Ottoman territories. The Appendix includes inscriptions and a very interesting list of place names, both in their local version and in the version adopted by the Royal Geographical Society. In addition to the full-page illustrations, there are in-text drawings of subjects from everyday life (musical instruments, tools, dervishes), antiquities (sculptures and inscriptions), and relating to travel, such as a ship, a teapot and a mosquito net.

After Fellows, other travellers toured the Asia Minor heartland, following in his footsteps. They too faced extremely adverse travel conditions and the difficulty in matching modern place names to the toponyms in the ancient sources, as well as problems in communicating with local ethnic groups due to cultural differences.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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  • FELLOWS, Sir Charles. A Journal written during an Excursion in Asia Minor, London, John Murray, 1839.