The renowned Egyptologist, Robert Hay (1799-1863) first visited Egypt in 1818, whilst serving in the Royal Navy. He returned in 1824 and stayed there for four years, travelling briefly to Scotland in 1828, before going back to Egypt, where he remained until 1834. Hay worked with a team of artists and architects who helped him record the area surrounding the ancient city of Thebes, including the architect Joseph Bonomi (1796-1878), the artist Frederick Catherwood (1799-1854), and the leading Arabic scholar, Edward William Lane (1801-1876). Hay oversaw the execution of detailed drawings of monuments and tomb decorations with brief descriptions and often including architectural plans. His own talents were employed executing panoramic views of the area such as this drawing.
During his time in Egypt, Hay had become a friend and colleague of Gardner Wilkinson, who published The Topography of Thebes and General Survey of Egypt in 1830, which included detailed maps of the area and drawings of every known tomb. However, the accuracy of the drawings executed by Hay and his team at Thebes and elsewhere in Egypt has lead to their still being used by archaeologists today in order to reconstruct ancient buildings that have subsequently fallen into disrepair or been destroyed. At the time of his death, Hay had still not published his findings and the majority of his work, including two comparable 360o panoramas, dated 1826, and made with the use of a camera lucida (like the present drawing), are now in the British Library. The watermark at the top of sheet six indicates that the present drawing was executed some time after 1828.