Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer (2015)


Born in Washington New Hall in what was then County Durham, archaeologist Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) had a remarkable life. She travelled round the world twice, investigated archaeological sites through the Syrian Desert to Asia Minor, and became a powerful force in Iraqi politics. Gertrude established the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, and served as the Honorary Director of Antiquities in Iraq.  

Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer uses digital comics as entry points to original archive materials. The online-digital-hyperlinked comics are all free to read online: 

The seven digital comics by cartoonist John Miers present snapshots of Gertrude’s life and work. Click on the circular hotspots to see the photos, letters, and other artefacts that inspired each comic. These original materials include digitised artifacts in the Gertrude Bell Archive, and other collections of key sources.


Phase 2 will support people who aren’t archaeologists or subject specialists to further explore the Gertrude Bell Archive, with these comics as a starting point.

Look out for our printed preview version, too!  Of course the hyperlinks are only in the online comics, but the printed preview has more detail on where in the world Gertrude lived and worked.


We’re grateful to young people from the Newcastle Young Archaeologists’ Club for their help in refining these comics. We went on site at their summer dig at Derwentcote Steel Furnace, for feedback on drafts of each comic and opinions on art style. Then in autumn 2015, YAC tested our hyperlinked comics and helped us decide what could be developed further as phase 2 of this project.

Gertrude Bell: Archaeologist, Writer, Explorer is a collaboration between:

This project is supported by Newcastle University’s Institute for Creative Arts Practice

Please note that we are not responsible for the content or reader-friendliness of external archives and websites.


Academic journal article based on this project: Wysocki, L, Jackson, M, Webster, J, Miers, J, and Coxon, B. 2019. Making the invisible visible: hyperlinked webcomics as alternative points of entry to the digitised Gertrude Bell archive. International Journal of Heritage Studies, epub ahead of print. DOI:

Blog post about phase two of this project (Sana Al Naimi and Lydia Wysocki, interviewed by Eve Forrest):