Explorers by nature

“The late Mr. Theodore Bent was not a scientific archaeologist of the modern standard, but his death was nevertheless a severe loss to archaeology. He was a keen and untiring explorer, willing to sacrifice time, money, and personal comfort to his daring pursuit… We shall not easily find another to fill his place, with equal zeal, energy, perseverance, and self-devotion…” (‘The Athenaeum’, No. 3776, March 10, 1900, pp. 296-7)

Stop Press! Now available (February 2022) – the digitisation of Mabel’s ‘Chronicles’, in the words of the Curator of the project for the Hellenic Society (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.” This is an incredible advance and makes Mabel’s original work in the Levant, Africa, and Arabia available to scholars and interested travellers.

“Mr. Bent declares, however, that he is not an explorer or an adventurer; he is an archaeologist…” (Supplement to the South Wales Weekly Argus and Monmouthshire Advertiser, Saturday, October 28th, 1893)


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.

“… and aided by a wife who shared to the full his courage and enthusiasm.” (‘The Athenaeum’, No. 3776, March 10, 1900, pp. 296-7)

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 make your own related post one day and want to share this site among friends, family, and colleagues.

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