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LECHEVALIER, Jean Baptiste. Voyage de la Troade, ou Tableu de la plaine de Troie dans son état actuel..., Seconde édition, Paris, Laran, An VII [=1799].

The French archaeologist, astronomer and traveller Jean-Baptiste Lechevalier (1752-1836) taught in several Parisian colleges between 1772 and 1778, before his appointment as secretary to the French ambassador in Constantinople. In this post he travelled in Italy and Asia Minor, and published archaeological studies relating to those regions. In 1806 Lechevalier became librarian in the Sainte-Geneviève Library.

In the texts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Homeric battlefield had become a space of narrative reveries. In 1785, Lechevalier entered it like a “battering-ram”, seeking traces that would help him achieve his final goal, the discovery of Troy. Henceforth, the Troad held the interest of archaeological research and philological discussions, and a visit there became a must for travellers.

Lechevalier made archaeological investigations in the Troad for a second time in 1786-1787, in the company of Choiseul-Gouffier and the painter L.F. Cassas. He presented the outcome of his research to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in 1802 published his three-volume work, complete with an Atlas.

In spite of inaccuracies in his conclusions, Lechevalier correlates all his data, including those provided by the illustrations, with the corresponding Homeric verses. He uses the texts of Homer and Strabo, as well as other ancient sources and earlier travel accounts, to locate and identify the sites, with special emphasis on the tombs of the heroes. Systematic excavations at Troy were begun by Heinrich Schliemann in 1871.

This second edition describes Lechevalier’s voyage from Venice to the Troad. Only the third edition includes the Atlas, with numerous maps and hitherto unpublished material, such as plates with views of Corfu, Zacynthos, Ithaca, Athens, etc.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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