Sir Alfred Biliotti (Biographical details)

Sir Alfred Biliotti (archaeologist; official; British; Male; 1833 - 1915; active from)

Also known as

Biliotti, Alfred


Excavator (notably with Salzmann on Rhodes, but also on Crete) and British Consul at Rhodes between the 1850s and 1870s, who acted as an agent for Charles Newton in acquiring antiquities for the British Museum.

His father Charles Biliotti (1800-1879) came from Livorno in Italy and settled on Rhodes as a trader sometime in the late 1820s. A few years later he married Honorine, the daughter of the French Vice-Consul on Rhodes, George Fleurat. Alfred was born in 1833. Alongside his business activities, Charles acted as dragoman (interpreter) for the British Vice-Consulate on Rhodes and as a consular agent for Britain (but also for Spain and Tuscany). Services to British interests at Makri (Fethiye), where he also traded, led to his appointment in 1848 as Vice-Consul, a position he later held at Scio (Chios) and Mytilene on Lesbos and on Rhodes itself.

Alfred Biliotti worked with his father at the Makri consular as a clerk and later as dragoman at the Rhodes consulate. He was an unpaid Vice-Consul at Rhodes between 1855-6 and 1873 (Acting Consul in 1860); Consul at Trebizond 1873 to 1879 when Sivas was added to his charge; Consul on Crete 1885-97, when he was created Consul-General; C-G at Salonica from 1899 until his retirement in 1903. He played a leading role in the turbulent history of Crete during this period. He was made a Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1886 and a Knight Commander in 1896.

Biliotti's association with Newton began in the early 1850s. He excavated tombs at Kameiros on Rhodes in conjunction with his long-term collaborator the artist Auguste Salzmann (who provided the funds) from 1852. Some items were donated or sold to the Museum at this time, but the volume of acquisitions from Biliotti increased considerably from 1860 and especially when Newton became Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the BM the following year. From 1868, Biliotti excavated at Ialysos and, as with the earlier excavations, gave Newton first refusal on the finds which were generally purchased. Typical of BM policy at the time, very little direct funding was provided in advance of the excavations, so Biliotti and Salzmann bore the financial risk. He also excavated for Newton at Didyma in 1874 and also at Halikarnassos around the same time. He likewise excavated while based on Crete, and also acquired antiquities for the BM while serving as Consul in Turkey in the intervening period.


Who was Who, Vol. II, 1916-1928, 92

Barchard D. 2006, ‘The fearless and self-reliant servant. The life and career of Sir Alfred Biliotti (1833–1915). An Italian Levantine in British service’, SMEA 48, 5-53.

Challis D. 2008, From the Harpy Tomb to the Wonders of Ephesus: British Archaeologists in the Ottoman Empire 1840-1880 (London), 146-8.

Gunning L. 2009, The consular servive in the Aegean and the collection of antiquities for the British Museum (Farnham).