Trowelblazer or iconoclast?

Hosted by Chawton House, Chawton


Thursday 16 February 2023


From 7pm until 8:15pm




More details are available from the organisers website

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Event details may be subject to change without notice.

Talk by Emma Yandle on Lady Hester Stanhope and women in archaeology

In 1815, Lady Hester Stanhope led an expedition to Ashkelon in search of buried treasure after she came into possession of a medieval Italian manuscript that seemed to reveal the location of a hoard of three million gold coins. Convincing the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud to grant her permission to excavate, Stanhope became the first Westerner - and first woman - formally allowed to do so.

Stanhope’s dig went beyond the opportunistic treasure-hunting common at the time to record in detail the process of the dig. Whilst this modern approach marks Stanhope out as an important woman in the field of archaeology, her treatment of the artifact she discovered calls her legacy into question. Despite their best attempts, no gold was found but the torso of a huge marble statue was unearthed. To demonstrate her allegiance to the Ottomans and prevent accusations that she planned to steal the find, Stanhope ordered for it to be smashed and thrown into the sea.

In this talk, Emma Yandle will delve further into Lady Hester’s appreciation of ancient heritage during her travels, culminating in her controversial archaeological dig. Emma will be joined by Dr. Sophie Hay, an archaeologist who has worked on sites across Italy, Belize and Libya. Sophie will discuss her career in archaeology, including years spent working on one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites-Pompeii.