LAYARD, Sir Austen Henry
(1817–1894)
   British explorer, diplomat, and archaeologist. Having studied art in Florence but about to enter the legal profession, he undertook a journey to the Middle East, where he drew rock reliefs. He met Paul-Emile Botta in 1840 and became interested in ancient mounds. He spent one year exploring the tribe of the Bakhtiyari (Early Adventures in Persia, Susiana, and Babylonia, 1887) and obtained permission to begin excavations of Nimrud (Kalhu) in 1845. He discovered the palaces of the Assyrian kings, with their carved stone wall reliefs, as well as numerous cuneiform tablets. From 1849 to 1851 he also worked at Nineveh, where he unearthed the palace of Sennacherib with its state archive, and also made soundings at various other mounds. His lavishly illustrated books (Nineveh and Its Remains, 1849; Discoveries of the Ruins of Nineveh and Babylon, 1853), as well as the exhibition in the British Museum of the antiquities he had shipped to Britain, made Layard world-famous and caused great general enthusiasm for all things Babylonianand Assyrian. He retired from the field in 1851 and engaged in a political and diplomatic career.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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