David Roberts/John Freeman Group/Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum

Ashkelon, as it appeared to Lady Stanhope, was portrayed by the Scottish artist David Roberts in 1839, 24 years after Lady Stanhope’s visit. During the time of Lady Stanhope’s travels, archaeology in the Mediterranean mainly meant the excavation of beautifully sculpted ancient statues, which the excavators then shipped to their own countries. This legal plundering of antiquities sometimes occasioned public outcry, even in the countries destined to receive the statues. When Lady Stanhope and Dr. Meryon arrived in Ashkelon to excavate, they were suspected of having invented a story of buried treasure as a pretext for the excavation of ancient statues.