A lot of Lycian artefacts are actually in the British Museum, and that’s down to a chap called Charles Fellows.

Charles Fellows was the son of a wealthy Nottinghamshire family who produced silk. He first came to Turkey (then known as Asia Minor) in 1838 when he settled in Izmir (then Smyrna) and began to explore the south west coastal area.

He first came to Lycia when he came ashore at Patara and then trekked up the Xanthos valley – discovering Xanthos en route – as far as Tlos.

The existence of Xanthos had long been known from ancient writings such as those of Herodotus, but the location of the city had been lost until Fellows found it.

He kept copious notes, made sketches of ruins and copied inscriptions.

On his return to England he published ‘A Journal Written during an Excursion in Asia Minor’ which was a huge success.

As a result of this publication the British Museum approached the then Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and asked if the British Consul could approach the Sultan in Constantinople for permission to collect samples of Lycian remains.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Fellows removed a wealth of artefacts from Lycia on board the British naval survey vessel, HMS Beacon.

From Xanthos alone, he crated up the Nereid Monument, carved friezes from the Harpy Tomb and a huge sarcophagus known as the Horse Tomb.

He returned to England with 70 huge crates the contents of which led to a highly successful exhibition and can still be viewed in the British Museum today.

Indeed the ‘Xanthos Room’ in the Museum is one of the most visited galleries.

Fellows will crop up again in our articles on Lycia.


Meanwhile, if you want to see some of the best of Lycian sculpture and carving, take a trip to London.


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