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Dawkins and Wood discovering Palmyra

  • Object:

    Etching with engraving

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1773 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hall, John, born 1739 - died 1797 (printmaker)
    Hamilton, Gavin, born 1723 - died 1798 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching and engraving, ink on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118, The Wolfson Gallery, case WALL

Object Type
This print has been produced by a combination of two techniques: etching and engraving. The engraved lines are made by gouging lines into the surface of a metal plate, whereas the etched ones are produced by biting with acid into the plate. The plate is then inked and pressed onto a sheet of paper, which transfers the ink held in the lines in the plate.

Subject Depicted
This print shows the two explorers and antiquaries Robert Wood (?1717-1771) and James Dawkins (1722-1757), arriving at the ancient Roman site of Palmyra, in present-day Syria. They investigated this ruined city and its architectural remains in 1751, and published an account of their discovery in 1753 in The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise Tedmor, in the Desert'. Both men are incongruously shown wearing Roman togas.

Palmyra had been a settlement since Neolithic times. It was an important site for several succeeding cultures: the Assyrians, the Greeks and finally the Romans. Under the Roman Empire, which annexed it in AD 217, Palmyra enjoyed a period of astonishing wealth gained from taxation of the flourishing trade routes. In AD 1089 the city was totally destroyed by an earthquake.

This print by John Hall (1739-1797) is based on an oil painting of 1758 by Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798), which is now in the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow University. Hamilton was a Scottish-born painter, archaeologist and dealer, who spent most of his life in Rome.

Physical description


Place of Origin

London (made)


1773 (made)


Hall, John, born 1739 - died 1797 (printmaker)
Hamilton, Gavin, born 1723 - died 1798 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Etching and engraving, ink on paper


Height: 49.2 cm paper, Width: 56 cm paper

Object history note

Etched and engraved in London by John Hall ( 1739- 1797), based on a painting of 1758 by Gavin Hamilton (1723-1798)

Descriptive line

Engraving of Dawkins and Wood Discovering Palmyra, etched and engraved in London by John Hall, based on a painting of 1758 by Gavin Hamilton, 1773

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The archaeological investigation of ancient remains in Greece, Turkey and Syria played an important part in the development of the Neo-classical style. The ancient city of Palmyra (now Tadmur) in the Syrian desert, was investigated in 1751 by Robert Wood and James Dawkins. They published their findings in 1753. [27/03/2003]


Printing ink


Etching; Engraving

Subjects depicted

Palm trees; Architecture; Classicism; Men; Ruins; Exoticism; Spears; Horses; Turbans


Black History; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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