Paul Monod, Hepburn Professor of History
“Among Ruins: The Travels of Dawkins and Wood in the Ottoman Empire”
In 1750-51, two British travelers, James Dawkins and Robert Wood, made a trip through the Ottoman Empire, visiting Istanbul, the site of ancient Troy, the pyramids, the temple of Baalbek and the ruins of the city of Palmyra. After their return to Britain, they published two magnificent volumes of prints showing Baalbek and Palmyra, which deeply influenced the development of 18th-century neo-classical architecture. Their diaries and notes, however, reveal their interest in more contemporary topics. Dawkins was a wealthy Jamaican planter who enslaved 350 Africans, Wood an aspiring scholar and critic of British society whose views did not always follow current trends towards “Orientalism.” The two men recorded comments on Islam, race relations, slavery, and the effects of luxury, which reveal as much about European and West Indian society as about the Ottoman Empire.
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