BAR 10:04, Jul/Aug 1984
Restoring the Reputation of Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope
A little-known episode in the beginnings of archaeology in the Holy Land
Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope, granddaughter of William Pitt and daughter of the third Earl of Stanhope, was the first person who ever intentionally excavated an ancient artifact in the Holy Land. In this sense, she might be considered the first Biblical archaeologist. But when Lady Hester unearthed a huge marble statue at Tell Ashkelon, she ordered that it be smashed to bits. And thereby hangs a tale.
Lady Hesters expedition to Tell Ashkelon in April 1815 has been one of the most maligned episodes in the history of the exploration of the Holy Land. Later critics have always …