Ivo Klaver discusses the four major expeditions (Danish, French, Prussian, and British) which assembled scientific data in various parts of the Arab world between 1761 and 1881. These unique expeditions were sponsored by governments and official institutions, as opposed to expeditions undertaken by individual collectors. As such they were aimed at satisfying a desire for national prestige in a European imperialistic context, either in the field of knowledge or in the field of trade. At the same time they were epic adventures for the brilliant and dedicated naturalists involved, several of whom paid with their lives for their single-minded determination to make new discoveries and record them. To date little work has been done on the botanical and zoological results of the Danish and French expeditions, and no study has yet dealt with the German and English ones. The expeditions are reconstructed through private letters and diaries of the naturalists which are brought together for the first time in a single book, and which throw fascinating new light on the personalities involved and the extreme hardships they endured.
As such it is a major contribution to the study of travel in the Middle East in this period, as well as to the scientific treatment of the area.
Jan Marten Ivo Klaver studied at the Universities of Groningen and Exeter and took his doctoral degree at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of Geology and Religious Sentiment: The Effect of Geological Discoveries on English Society and Literature between 1829 and 1859 (1997) and The Apostle of the Flesh: A Critical Life of Charles Kingsley (2006). He is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London and teaches at the University of Urbino.
Preface ; Introduction. Europe and the Scientific Exploration of the Near and Middle East ; 1. Pehr Forsskal and the Danish Expedition of 1761-1767 ; 2. The Naturalists of the French Expedition of 1798-1801 ; 3. Ehrenberg and the Hemprich: The Prussian Expedition of 1820-1825 ; 4. Balfour, Schweinfurth and the Soqotra Expeditions of 1880-1881 ; Conclusion. High Hopes, Disillusionment and Final Achievements