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LEAKE, William Martin. Peloponnesiaca: a Supplement to Travels in the Morea, London, J. Rodwell, 1846.

Vice-coronel William Martin Leake (1777-1860) was a topographer, antiquarian and member of the society of the Dilettanti. He is considered one of the most systematic researchers of Greek territories. Leake studied in the Royal Military Academy, lived in India for four years and during his life became a member of the Royal Society of London, the Royal Geographic Society, and the Berlin Academy of Science.

From 1794 to 1815 Leake was on a government mission to the Ottoman empire, to promote the prospective political and military interests of the British Empire. Thus he mapped Egypt and the Nile waterfalls in 1801. He returned to Britan on a ship carrying part of the sculptures pillaged by Lord Elgin, and lost nearly all of his drawings and maps.

Later on, Leake studied the strategic possibilities of the Peloponnese, its roads and fortified positions. As official representative of Britain in the court of Ali Pasha, he made pioneering explorations of Northern Greece. Finally, he walked Western Asia Minor with unparalleled patience and endurance, and systematically charted its territory.

During his missions, Leake recorded every important feature of each area in his systematic, meticulous and precise style. He produced a plethoric work, comprised of the account of his travels (albeit with scarce references to himself), and historical and political expositions centered on the Greek world, both ancient and modern. In addition, Leake collected several antiquities, today housed in the British Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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