When William John Bankes began to travel, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the rest of the world was poor. Thus the Englishman could get by on very little and put his learning, and especially his Protestant arrogance, to good use. Whilst at Cambridge, where he encouraged choristers in certain rituals (or so it was said), and when not corrupting Byron, Bankes became well grounded in the Classics. After Cambridge, everyone travelled. War tourism was fashionable and Bankes headed for the Iberian Peninsula. Wellington, a friend of the family, found him well motivated and tenacious. He then moved on, shopping for trinkets in a zigzag through Europe, to the Balkans, to Asia Minor and on to Egypt.
In 1815 Bankes was little more than an informed tourist. Within five years, he was recognised as a leader of the celebrated school of English amateur explorers. He became a precise epigrapher; his recordings of hieroglyphics in Egypt were sophisticated for the time. Henry Salt, then the British Consul in