Explorers of the Nile

John Hanning Speke was first of a group of European Victorian-era explorers to discover the source of the river Nile, the longest river in the world. His discovery was contested by notably by Richard Burton and others but verified in 1877 years after his death in 1864 in a shooting accident. This explorer who was able to verify Speke’s maps was non other than Henry Stanley. Stanley having found David Livingston was able to proceed with him on a journey that established the veracity of Speke’s mapping and definitively proved Burton claims as false.

Richard Burton, John Speke, James Grant, David Livingstone, Henry Stanley, and Samuel Baker and his mistress, Florence von Sas.

A monument was belatedly erected in Kensington Gardens, London as a to tribute to Speke by the RoyalGeographical Society with funds raised by public subscription

In Memory of Speke Victoria Nyanza and the Nile 1864

Location of monument in Kensington Gardens

Speke Nile-Nyanza memorial on the corner of Lancaster Walk and Budges Walk

The triumphs and the tragedies of the Nile explorers during the Victorian era is wonderfully recounted in Tim Jeal’s book.

Didlington Hall

One of Samuel Carter’s patrons was William Amherst Tyssen-Amherst of Didlington Hall, an estate eight miles from Swaffham. As a boy, Howard visited Didlington Hall when his father painted Lord Amherst’s portrait, and this is where he first became exposed to Egyptology.



Down tomb valley – digging for King Tut

The story of the search for the tomb of Tutankhamun. Keep an eye out for Indy Jones being hotly pursued by irate Ottomans! Most reviews at the time of the 2017 ITV four-part mini series were generously favorable. The cast is very talented and does a fabulous job given that the story line bears only a glancing relationship with history. But it does include a completely fictitious character Maggie Lewis of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and thus, without the presence of Catherine Steadman would have been significantly worse off. By the way Steadman played a role in Downton Abbey and so in my view has as strong a connection with the historical discovery of the tomb as the script. The Radio Times review is worth a read. So too, James Walton’s review in the The Spectator in which he describes Carter’s meeting with Sir Flinders Petrie as ” — here depicted as a more naked version of Caractacus Potts from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” But above all, watch the mini-series on Amazon Prime (Britbox if in the US).

A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children

A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children

A Cephalopod Has Passed a Cognitive Test Designed For Human Children


Corps of Discovery: Chronometer

Meriwether Lewis was encouraged to take a chronometer to assist with accuracy of longitudinal measurements and navigation. It proved less than practicable for the journey requiring continual winding and having vulnerabilities to fine particulate matter (sand). The corps abandoned use of the instrument half way across.

Based on a design from Europe but made in Philadelphia. It would have been similar in appearance to the instrument shown below: