Paul Lucas (1664-1737) was a French merchant, naturalist, physician, antiquities hunter and emissary of Louis XIV in search of antiquities. He was born in Rouen and started travelling at a young age. In his first voyage (1688-1696) he probably dealt in precious stones. From 1699 to 1703 Lucas travelled in all the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Cyprus, Syria) and Persia. From October 1705 to 1708 he toured the northern and southern Greek territories, the Aegean islands, Asia Minor and the Holy Land, always on the look for antiquities and inscriptions. He returned to France carrying 1800 ancient coins, twenty-two ancient manuscripts and fifty-two inscriptions, only from one voyage, all destined for himself and the Roi Soleil. He made his third voyage in the years 1714-1717, visiting Istanbul, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Egypt. He embarked on his fourth voyage to East in 1723.
Lucas published all the accounts of his travels – except for the last – which however were written by Baudelot de Nerval, Étienne Fourmont and Abbé Banier, illustrious members of the Académie des Beaux Arts. His accounts, richly illustrated with depictions of rare subjects caused a sensation all over Europe, were republished many times and translated into English and German. Lucas died at the age of senty-three, on a journey to Spain.
Written by Ioli Vingopoulou