Smyth 1815 description of Lampedusa

The English admiral William Henry Smyth (1788-1865) visited Lampedusa in 1815 during his hydrographic survey of Sicily and its islands: he produced a detailed map of Lampedusa and wrote a short description of the island in his "Memoir descriptive of the Resources, Inhabitants and Hydrography of Sicily and its Islands".
We mention this book here because Smyth's short description of Lampedusa is of particular interest for us considering that he visited the island before the isalnd was colonized by Sanvisente in 1843, the event that started the dramatic change of the landscape, flora and fauna of Lampedusa after centuries of relative isolation and stable environmental conditions. In his short description Smyth plainly writes: 
" there are vestiges of ancient habitations on the island"
This is particularly interesting because it means that back then the prehistoric stone remains were more visible and apparent than they look today to have caught the eye of the admiral who mentioned them in a short description that was not supposed to deal with archaeology but with hydrography.

1815 Map of Lampedusa by W.H. Smyth

Another important thing to note is that the English admiral saw an island completely different from the one that a visitor can see today: back then the island was green with a rich variety of flora and fauna in sharp contrast with the arid aspect that the island has today:

"The western parts are covered with dwarf olives, and a great variety of plants, so that a good deal of fire- wood is cut and sent to Tripoli and Malta ; and amongst this profusion there are plenty of wild goats, that used to annoy the farm considerably, until the erection of the above-mentioned wall : they still find a destructive enemy, however, in the Numidian crane, called, from its graceful gait, the Damsel ; these birds arrive in great numbers in May, and delight to revel among the legumes, always planting a sentinel to warn them of discovery during their ravages."

This factor is very important when dealing with the megalithic remains of Lampedusa: we must be aware that the agricultural exploitation of the soil which started in 1850 and the civil/military construction activity produced the the loss of the tick Mediterranean vegetation and a progressive loss of terrain due to wind and erosion effects no loner mitigated by the tick flora that gradually disappeared along with the soil.
The erosion and loss of soil must have dramatically changed the original stratigraphy of the prehistoric remains of Lampedusa.  has prepared an e-book with the original description of Lampedusa by W.H. Smyth  and we are sharing it with our users and visitors for free in order to stimulate the study and research about the prehistoric origins of Lampedusa. You can download a free copy here: