Sir Henry Austen Layard (1817-1894)
Discoverer of lost cities
Sir Austen Henry Layard had a varied career as a traveller, art historian, draughtsman, collector, author and diplomat. He was also famed as an archaeologist due to his excavation of ancient cities in Iraq.
Between 1845 and 1847 and 1849 and 1851 Layard excavated the 7th to 9th century BC Assyrian royal palaces at Nimrud in modern Iraq. However, Layard initially incorrectly identified the site as Nineveh.
Through his excavations of buildings, palaces and libraries, Layard discovered many statues and treasures. He displayed many of the sculptures he had discovered, including, at the British Museum, colossal statues of winged bulls which caused a sensation.
When he made his discoveries public, Layard was credited with having 'made the Bible true'. In 1853, he was given the freedom of the City of London for demonstrating 'the accuracy of Sacred History'.
Murray published many of Layard's works, including the lavish and beautifully illustrated two-volume book 'Nineveh and its Remains' (1848-1849) and 'Discoveries in the ruins of Nineveh and Babylon' (1853). Layard also contributed to 'Murray's Handbook for Travellers to Rome' and to 'Murray's Magazine' and the 'Quarterly Review'.
Highlighted items from the archive
NRA name: Layard, Sir Austen Henry (1817-1894). Knight, politician, diplomat, archaeologist.
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