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Archaeology and the Victorians - The John Murray Archive

John McMurray established the publishing house of John Murray in 1768 and over the next seven generations the firm grew to become one of the world's greatest publishers.

A particular strength of the archive lies in the explorers and adventurers it represents, and the contribution they made to contemporary discussions surrounding faith and science.  Murray published scientists like Charles Darwin, whose travels inspired his evolutionary theories and intense contemporary debate, but he also published the archaeologist Sir Austen Henry Layard who became known as “the Man who made the Bible True” when he rediscovered lost cities from biblical times.

After a brief introduction to the John Murray Archive, Nat will explore the contribution made to this debate by three Victorian archaeologists, Sir Austen Henry Layard, Heinrich Schliemann and David Roberts.

Layard is best known for identifying Kuyunjik as the site of the biblical city of Nineveh, capital of Assyria, now in modern day Iraq.  The German Heinrich Schliemann was a unique if controversial archaeologist, a passionate traveller with a fascination for cultural and historical icons.  David Roberts was born in Edinburgh in 1796.  He explored the major biblical and ancient monumental sites in Egypt, Nubia, The Holy Land and Syria, documenting them through hundreds of detailed drawings and sketches.  The resulting illustrations were sensational, and are still recognised as a landmark in colour printing.

The image is an illustration by David Roberts from “Egypt and Nubia”, © National Library of Scotland.