Explorers by nature

Hello! You are most welcome to our website dedicated to the travels, enquiries and researches of J. Theodore (1852-1897) and Mabel (1847-1929) Bent, undertaken during the last decades of the reign of Queen Victoria. It is hoped that the site will develop into a useful resource for the sharing of information on these great British travellers, who still remain relatively unknown beyond the confines of scholarly bibliographies and the daypacks of Cycladic-island-hoppers.


Recent Bent news!

Alice Norton, Mabel Bent’s great-great niece, has just published (December 2022) a comprehensive article on Mabel in the latest edition of ‘Carloviana 2023’, the Journal of the Carlow Historical and Archaeological Society. Alice takes us on a fascinating journey, and includes from her family archive some unique and unpublished watercolour drawings of Theodore’s done in Greece, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Socotra! You will want to see them – no one else has before!

Now available  – the digitisation of Mabel’s ‘Chronicles’, in the words of the Curator of the project for the Hellenic Society, London (Sept 2021):- “The digitisation project encompasses several collections here at the library; most notably … the Bent Collection … which contains the travel diaries of Mabel and Theodore Bent, who travelled in Greece and the Middle East in the late 19th century.”

Mabel Bent’s original diary manuscripts can now be accessed by all who want to accompany this couple around remoter parts of the Levant, Africa, and Arabia through a late-19th century lens.


The main objective of our journey in these pages is to broaden awareness of the nature and extent of the travels and activities of this British couple at the end of the 19th century, and to provide a forum for anyone (enthusiast to academic) interested in the Bents’ researches into matters archaeological and ethnographical, amongst many others, as well as their ineradicable need to be somewhere else!

The expeditions
The expeditions of Theodore & Mabel Bent, 1883-1897 (drawn by G. Griffiths © Glyn Griffiths and the Bent Archive)

You will see that our site explores the couple’s main spheres of research interests (see ‘Explorations’): Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean (1880s), parts of Africa (early 1890s), and Southern Arabia (until Theodore’s death in May 1897).

Beyond these horizons, a major component of the site is the section devoted to the travel diaries kept by Mabel over the nearly twenty years of the couple’s journeys together (see ‘Mabel’s Chronicles). These first-hand accounts of their activities at unexplored archaeological sites from ‘Abyssapolis’ (1895) to (Great) Zimbabwe (1891) are of unique interest.

Other features of this site include:

We very much hope you will enjoy and find much of interest as you travel these pages in the company of our indefatigable Victorian travellers – Theodore & Mabel Bent – and that you will want to share this site among friends, family, and colleagues.

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