The book tells the story of how the British consular service in the Aegean, in the years of the British protectorate of the Ionian Islands (1815-1864) became an agency for the retrieval, excavation and collection of antiquities eventually destined for the British Museum. It sets out several challenges to current views: for those interested in the history of travel in the Levant, or more generally in the Grand Tour, the book presents a different point of view that of the consuls, which challenges the descriptions of the travelers, giving the perspective of foreign residents, and one that has so far been ignored. For those interested in British diplomatic history, this book provides an insight into the consuls in both their official and private circumstances, and compares their situation under the Levant Company with that of the Foreign Office run consular service. Thirdly and more substantially, the work analysis the collection of antiquities for the British Museum, helping to address the current lack of studies relating to the archaeological record and related analysis of remains discovered in the past.
Exploring the historical, political and diplomatic circumstances that allowed the consular service to develop from a chartered company, into a state run institution under the direction of the Foreign Office, this book provides a unique perspective on the intersection of state policy and the collecting of antiquities. The political situation in the Aegean at the time of the take over of the service is likewise taken into consideration, as well as the role of the consuls, both politically and commercially, and their daily dealings with the Greeks and Ionians, and also with the Ottoman authorities.
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing Group