TIMELINE / Before 1800 to After 1930 / REDISCOVERING THE PAST
Date Country Theme
1787 Spain Rediscovering The Past
Antigüedades Árabes de España published by Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando – it marks the beginning of the rediscovery of the Arab past.
1802 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
The Treaty of Paris is signed. Following defeat by Anglo-Ottoman forces, France surrenders to Britain the Egyptian antiquities it has collected. The way is open for British exploration of Egyptian archaeology.
1802 Germany Rediscovering The Past
The first Chair of Archaeology is appointed at the Christian-Albrechts-Universität in Kiel.
1806 - 1921 Jordan Rediscovering The Past
The 19th century is the age of rediscovery and of opening up the monuments and sites of the Ancient East to Western civilisation. Most ancient sites of Transjordan such as Petra, Jerash, Gadara (Umm Qays), Amra, Umm al-Rasas, Mushatta and many others are explored, documented and identified during the 19th century.
1808 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
Claudius Rich is appointed East India Company Resident at Baghdad. His work at Babylon and Nineveh stimulates European interest in the archaeology of Iraq. East India Company men play a major role in the exploration and mapping of the Middle East.
1810 - 1850 Tunisia Rediscovering The Past
Travellers and explorers of modern times have scoured and described the Regency of Tunis. Their missions to the region provided occasions to discover the remains of antiquity and open up new fields of research to European scholars.
1815 - 1816 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Antonio Canova, acting on behalf of Pope Pio VII, recovers from France several pieces of art belonging to the Papal States, which had been brought to Paris by Napoleon, including the Villa Borghese’s archaeological collection.
1816 Italy Rediscovering The Past
In Naples, inauguration of the Royal Bourbon Museum, whose holdings include the rich collection of archaeological items belonged to Elisabetta Farnese and the pieces excavated in Pompei during the 18th century. All such holdings are personal properties of the king.
1820 - 1825 Germany Rediscovering The Past
The German naturalists and explorers Wilhelm Friedrich Hemprich and Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg embark on a research tour in cooperation with Martin Lichtenstein (who published Reisen im südlichen Afrika (Tourism in Southern Africa) in 1810 and was appointed director of the Berlin Zoological Museum in 1813) from Cairo to Derna in Libya, along the Nile, and through the Sinai Desert and Lebanon, collecting natural and historical specimens.
1820 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Edict by Cardinal Bartolomeo Pacca (1756–1844) dictating a comprehensive set of measures for the protection of cultural heritage in the Papal States: it is the first comprehensive law on the protection of cultural heritage issued in Italy and it will become a model for the other Italian states.
1822 France Rediscovering The Past
The scholar, philologist and Orientalist Jean-François Champollion (1790–1832) deciphers the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs.
1822 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Inauguration of the Vatican Museums’ Braccio Nuovo (new wing), which completes the Chiaramonti Museum, whose construction had started in 1807, under the impulse of Pope Pius VII (Barnaba Chiaramonti). The Museum’s collection was set up by the sculptor Antonio Canova and included a large body of archaeological items.
1822 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
Champollion deciphers Egyptian hieroglyphs, giving voice to the wealth of ancient inscriptions. This heralds the beginning of Egyptology.
1824 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Publication of O Alfageme de Santarém, a drama by Almeida Garret (1799–1854). The subject is the dynastic crisis of 1383–85 when the Portuguese kingdom was invaded by Juan I of Castille, married to the heir to the Portuguese throne, Princess Beatriz. In 1385, acclaimed King João I of Avis with Lady Philippa of Lancaster created the dynasty of Avis, responsible for the era of the Discoveries.
1824 Italy Rediscovering The Past
In Turin, inauguration of the Royal Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. The Museum holding includes 5,268 Egyptian items brought to Italy by Bernardino Drovetti and bought by the King of Sardinia, Charles Felix of Savoy.
1825 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Almeida Garrett writes the poems Camões (1825) and Dona Branca (1826), considered the first romantic works in Portuguese. The hero, Camões, is presented as an outcast who, returning to the motherland, dies in the year when Portugal loses its independence (1580). The fantasy of medieval wizardry traditions is represented in Dona Branca.
1828 - 1829 Italy Rediscovering The Past
The Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopold II and Charles X of France finance the archaeological expedition to Egypt headed by Ippolito Rossellini and Jean-Francois Champollion.
1828 Greece Rediscovering The Past
Ioannis Kapodistrias oversees the establishment of Greece’s first museum, the Archaeological Museum of Aegina.
1828 - 1910 Spain Rediscovering The Past
Beginning of the restoration of the Alhambra by the Contreras family. The restoration is more an “adornment” of the monument following ideas from Orientalism. The Contreras' casting workshop reproduces plaster decorations from the palace sold as souvenirs and displayed at international exhibitions, spreading the Alhambrismo or Alhambresque style.
1831 France Rediscovering The Past
The Chair in Egyptology at the Collège de France is created by a decree made by King Louis-Philippe of France on 12 March.
1834 Greece Rediscovering The Past
The Numismatic Museum is established. In 1843, it is amalgamated with the National Library and housed in a room at the University of Athens.
1837 Greece Rediscovering The Past
The Archaeological Society of Athens is established. Its aim is to encourage archaeological-excavation management of antiquities in Greece.
1837 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Two peasants find a Gothic hoard (4th–5th centuries AD) – the Pietroasa Treasure – near a village from Buzău county (Wallachia). Unfortunately, only 12 of the 22 golden pieces – jewellery and vases – were preserved.
1838 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Auto de Gil Vicente written by Almeida Garrett (1799–1854). The plot revives the 16th-century court of King Manuel I where a play by Gil Vicente (founder of Portuguese modern theatre) is performed during the celebrations for the marriage of his daughter Princess Beatriz.
1838 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
Sultan Mahmud II gave some parts of the bas reliefs of the temple of Assos to France and he also authorises French archaeologist Charles Texier (1802–71) to take away parts of the frieze from the temple of Artemis in Magnesia ad Meandrum.
1840 - 1880 Tunisia Rediscovering The Past
Abbot Bourgade and Father Delattre excavate the Punic and Roman ruins of Carthage and then set up the first archaeological collections of the Saint Louis Museum in Carthage and the Alaoui Museum in Bardo.
1842 - 1846 Germany Rediscovering The Past
The Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius is appointed director of an expedition to Egypt by Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
1843 - 1851 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Publication of Romanceiro Português by Almeida Garrett (1799–1854), a two-volume compilation of popular folktales. Almeida Garrett aimed at the creation of a national literature inspired by local and regional traditions.
1844 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Frei Luís de Sousa, by Almeida Garrett. A romantic drama on the myth of King Sebastian, killed in the Battle of Alcacer Quibir, Morocco, in 1578. The myth of a disappeared king who will return to regain freedom and independence for his people underlies the plot together with the extreme love of Brother Luís de Sousa for his country.
1844 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Publication of the novel Eurico,O Presbítero by Alexandre Herculano (1810–77). The story takes place during the period of the Arab invasion of Visigoth Hispania, led by Tarik in 711.
1849 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
English archaeologist and politician Austen Henry Layard (1817–94) publishes Nineveh and its Remains.
1850 Spain Rediscovering The Past
First photography of the Islamic monuments and remains in Spain such as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Alhambra palace.
1850 - 1860 France Rediscovering The Past
Excavations of the French scholar, archaeologist and Egyptologist Auguste Mariette (1821–81) in Egypt.
1851 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
When the Great Exhibition of All Nations opens in London, as well as showcasing technological progress, it also exposes the public to Egyptian, Mesopotamian and other ancient cultures, thus fostering an appetite for museums.
1851 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Lendas e Narrativas published by Alexandre Herculano (1810–77), a collection of historical short stories set in the context of medieval times and the “Reconquista” process, the Iberian Christian military movement to recover Muslim-occupied territories (10th–15th centuries).
1852 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
A museum of ancient costumes (Elbise-i Atika) is opened in Hippodrome (İstanbul) where old costumes of Janissaries are exhibited on mannequins.
1854 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
English amateur archaeologist Frank Calvert (1828–1908) begins excavations in Troy.
1855 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Inauguration of the Egyptian Museum in Florence. The bulk of its holdings are the items collected by Ippolito Rossellini during the 1828–29 Franco-Tuscan expedition to Egypt, together with the Egyptian antiquities that the Medici family had collected during the 18th century.
1856 Germany Rediscovering The Past
A Neanderthal is discovered and examined by Johann Carl Fuhlrott and Hermann Schaaffhausen. Rudolf Virchow, friends with the famous archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann, claims that the Neanderthal is not prehistoric man. He is wrong.
1856 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
The Portugaliae Monumenta Historica is published. Acknowledged as a historian, Alexandre Herculano is commissioned by Academia das Ciências de Lisboa to compile this collection of old documents that are at risk of disappearing and being dispersed throughout convent archives. He undertook this task in 1853–54.
1857 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Creation of the Museum of the Geological Commission currently called the Museum of Geology of Portugal. It is established under the auspices of the Geological Commission from specimens collected by the Portuguese pioneers of geology Carlos Ribeiro, Nery Delgado, Pereira da Costa, Paul Choffat and others.
1861 Italy Rediscovering The Past
The pre-unification laws on the protection of cultural heritage of the individual Italian states remain in force even after unification. Until 1902, different Italian regions are thus subject to different disciplines.
1862 France Rediscovering The Past
Creation of the Museum of Celtic and Gallo-Roman Antiquities by Napoleon III in Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
1864 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Creation of the Carmo Archaeological Museum by the Portuguese Association of Civil Architects, which in 1867 adopts the title of Royal Association of Civil Architects and Portuguese Archaeologists. The museum is located in the ruins of medieval Convento do Carmo, destroyed by the 1755 earthquake.
1867 Spain Rediscovering The Past
Foundation of the Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid following the European movement to create national museums holding the remains of a country's past in tandem with the development of archaeology as a discipline. The museum covers prehistory to modern times, and from its opening in 1871 Spanish Moorish objects are displayed in its Medieval galleries.
1867 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Febo Moniz published by Joaquim Pedro de Oliveira Martins (1845–94). Subtitled "Romance Histórico Português do Século XVI", the action takes place in Lisbon in 1580. The protagonist is the prosecutor Febo Moniz, the sole representative of the state to protest against the acclamation of Philip II of Spain as King of Portugal.
1867 Romania Rediscovering The Past
The Pietroasa Treasure is displayed at the International Exposition in Paris.
1868 Lebanon Rediscovering The Past
Luigi Palma di Cesnola, the American Consul in Cyprus, gives a collection of Cyprian pottery to the Syrian Protestant College (now the American University) in Beirut. This event is the first step towards the foundation of the Archaeological Museum of the American University.
1869 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
The opening of the Suez Canal sparks a second burst of British popular interest in ancient Egypt.
1870 - 1875 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
Academic interest and geopolitical concerns combine to stimulate the state-of-the-art mapping of Palestine. There is strong interest in the lands of the Bible. In addition, following the opening of the Suez Canal, threats to British routes to India loom from the north, first from Russia and then from the Ottoman Empire and Germany.
1871 Spain Rediscovering The Past
Voyage of the frigate Arapiles to the Near East. The ship was commissioned by the Spanish government to travel to the Near East with Spanish archaeologists and curators to document ancient monuments and buy antiquities. It sailed from Naples to Greece, Istanbul, Rhodes, Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt and brought back drawings, notes and artworks to be kept in the Museo Arqueológico Nacional of Madrid.
1871 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Alexandru Odobescu sends an archaeological questionnaire to teachers all over the country, who have to return information about archaeological discoveries or vestiges of antique monuments existing in the areas where they live or work.
1871 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann (1822–90) begins excavations in Troy.
1873 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
Heinrich Schliemann finds what he calls “Priam’s Treasure” in Troy.
1873 Austria Rediscovering The Past
The Austrian archaeologist Alexander Conze organizes excavations in Samothrace.
1873 Germany Rediscovering The Past
The development of Classical Archaeology is strongly influenced by Heinrich Schliemann in the second half of the 18th century when for example he finds the “Gold of Troy”.
1874 Romania Rediscovering The Past
18 April: decree for the founding of the Commission of Public Monuments to record the public monuments on Romanian territory and to ensure their conservation.
1875 France Rediscovering The Past
Creation of the French School of Rome (excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum).
1875 Tunisia Rediscovering The Past
The Saint Louis Museum in Carthage is founded in the former seminary of the White Fathers.
1875 Greece Rediscovering The Past
Excavations begin at Olympia under the German archaeologist Ernst Curtius; they continue under German leadership until World War II.
Late 19th century Greece Rediscovering The Past
The “early conservator” Panagiotis Kaloudis works on the restoration of the Chaironia Lion.
1876 Italy Rediscovering The Past
In Rome, Luigi Pigorini founds the National Prehistoric Ethnographic Museum, enriching with new acquisitions the ethnographic and prehistoric collection previously belonging to the Kircher Museum, founded in the 17th century.
1877 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
German archaeologist Carl Humann (1839–96) begins excavating Pergamon. He would later conduct excavations in Zincirli (1888) and Magnesia (1892).
1879 Spain Rediscovering The Past
Marcelino Sanz de Sautuola and his daughter discover the cave paintings of Altamira. De Sautuola and Juan Vilanova y Piera in an 1880 publication identify them as Palaeolithic, meeting scepticism and ridicule until the discovery of similar paintings elsewhere results in recognition of their findings in 1902. Famous for drawings and polychrome paintings of animals and human hands the cave is now a national museum and World Heritage site.
1880 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
The 11th International Congress of Anthropology and Prehistoric Archaeology is held in Lisbon. This important conference gives international recognition to the dynamism that Portuguese archaeology has demonstrated since 1850.
1880 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
The remains of the poet Luís de Camões and the explorer Vasco da Gama are moved to the Jerónimos Monastery. Vasco da Gama and Luís de Camões (north and south side respectively), the two main representatives of the 16th-century The Lusiads epic poem, are honored and rest beside members of the Avis dynasty buried in Jerónimos.
1880 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Grigore Tocilescu’s book Dacia before the Romans is awarded the grand prize of the Academic Society, for the best work on the history of Dacia before the Roman conquest.
1880 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Celebration of the third centenary of the death of Luís de Camões. His poetry is considered the epitome of Portuguese literature both for The Lusiads, the epic national poem in which Vasco da Gama tells the history of Portugal to the Samorim (king) of Calcutta upon his arrival in India in 1498, and for his love sonnets.
1880 France Rediscovering The Past
Excavations of French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero (1846–1916) in Egypt.
1882 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Grigore Tocilescu begins to research the remains of the Roman town Tropaeum Traiani (modern Adamclisi in Dobruja).
1882 Tunisia Rediscovering The Past
The Alaoui Museum is founded in the bey’s palace in Bardo, in a wing of the complex formerly used to host the bey’s harem.
1883 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
Osman Hamdi Bey, Ottoman administrator and archaeologist excavates in Nemrud. Publication of his book Le Tumulus de Nemroud-Dagh.
1887 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
Osman Hamdi Bey excavates in Saida.
1888 Germany Rediscovering The Past
Julius Stinde writes Frau Buchholz im Orient. He has already documented the cities of Cairo, Jerusalem, Athens, and Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey).
1889 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Establishment of the National Roman Museum, in the stunning structure of the Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian) in Rome.
1889 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Establishment of the Museum of the pre-Roman Antiquities of Latium in the 16th-century Villa Giulia, in Rome. The museum would be later renamed the National Etruscan Museum.
1889 - 1900 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Archaeologist Alexandru Odobescu publishes in France a book about the Pietroasa Treasure (a historical description and a study on antique silver work).
1891 - 1892 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
Osman Hamdi Bey excavates in Lagina.
1891 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
13 June: The Archaeology Museum in Istanbul is opened.
1892 France Rediscovering The Past
Excavations at Delos and Delphi by the French School of Athens.
1893 Portugal Rediscovering The Past
Creation of the Portuguese Ethnological Museum, which in 1906 opened its doors to the public at the Jerónimos Monastery in the Belém area of Lisbon. The museum is currently designated the National Museum of Archaeology.
1893 Greece Rediscovering The Past
Foundation of the National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
1893 Austria Rediscovering The Past
The Egyptian authorities give the head of a Sphinx of Sesostris III to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
1895 Austria Rediscovering The Past
A statue of an athlete is found in Ephesus, Turkey; ‘Abd al-Hamid II, the Ottoman Sultan at the time, gives it as a gift to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I.
1895 Turkey Rediscovering The Past
German archaeologist Theodor Wiegand begins to excavate ancient Greek city of Priene. He would start to excavate in Miletos in 1896.
1898 - 1917 Germany Rediscovering The Past
Foundation of the Deutsche-Orient Gesellschaft (DOG) in Berlin is to promote research in the field of “Oriental” archaeology and bring it to a wider audience. One of the first archaeological excavations undertaken by the DOG was in Babylon, with the discovery of the Ishtar Gate (now at the Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin). DOG was responsible for finds at Tell el-Amarna, the capital of the Pharaonic Empire where the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti was found (now at the Neues Museum). Kaiser Wilhelm II assumed patronage of DOG in 1901.
1902 - 1909 Italy Rediscovering The Past
First Italian national laws on the protection of cultural heritage. The new laws establish the principle of inalienability of national heritage and create a state administration (with national and local branches) dedicated to caring for cultural heritage.
1902 - 1903 Italy Rediscovering The Past
The Italian state buys the 15th-century building of Villa Borghese in Rome and the park around it, including the astounding collection of paintings and sculptures that the villa housed. The villa will be transformed into the Borghese Gallery and Museum.
1902 Lebanon Rediscovering The Past
Opening of the Archaeological Museum of the American University of Beirut. It is the third oldest museum in the Mashriq, after those in Cairo and Istanbul.
1903 Germany Rediscovering The Past
A large part of the richly ornamented south facade of Qasr al-Mushatta – one of the most important works of early Islamic architecture – was presented as a gift from the Ottoman Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II to Emperor Wilhelm II and transported from Jordan to Berlin via rail and sea.
1906 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Ethnographer Lamberto Loria (1855–1913) creates an Ethnography Museum in Florence.
1906 Tunisia Rediscovering The Past
The Archaeological Museum of Sfax is established in one of the city’s hotels.
1910 Romania Rediscovering The Past
27 April: the establishment of the Historical Commission of Romania, which is intended to publish critical editions of the Romanian medieval chronicles.
1911 - 1913 Germany Rediscovering The Past
The international reputations of the Orientalist, archaeologist and investigator of inscriptions Ernst Herzfeld and art historian Friedrich Sarre were assured when they found 8,000-year old (6th-century) painted pottery known as Samarra-Ware. Some of these finds from Samarra are in the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin.
1912 - 1929 Austria Rediscovering The Past
The Austrian archaeologist Hermann Junker organises an excavation to Giza in Egypt.
1914 Romania Rediscovering The Past
Vasile Pârvan initiates archaeological digs at Histria (Dobruja), the earliest documented city in the territory of Romania, and in 1915 discovers the ruins of the ancient Greek city Istros.
1919 United Kingdom Rediscovering The Past
At the Paris Peace conference held after the end of the World War I, the Ottoman provinces of Basra, Baghdad and Mosul are unified into Iraq, governed by Britain, under a League of Nations mandate. Gertrude Bell helps found the Iraq Museum (1926) and draft antiquities laws.
1920 - 1922 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Philosopher, senator and minister of education (1920–21) Benedetto Croce promotes the approval of the first law on safeguarding the natural landscape.
1920s - 1930s Germany Rediscovering The Past
The Museum of Islamic Art, the German Oriental Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, undertake two excavations during which several iwans and stucco ornaments, as well as numerous other finds from houses, in layers of occupation from the late Sasanian period through to the early Islamic periods, are found. The stucco finds form the foundations for later stylistic developments in Samarra. Many of the stuccos are now found at the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1921 Italy Rediscovering The Past
Inauguration of the National Museum of Palazzo Venezia, in the 15th-century palace that used to house the Embassy of the Republic of Venice in Rome. The museum progressively focuses on applied arts: ceramics, furniture, silverware, jewellery, arms and armours, carpets and a variety of other items dating from the Middle Ages to modern times.