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Carsten Niebuhr

NIEBUHR, CARSTEN (1733–1815), German traveler. In 1760 he was proposed to join the expedition sent out by Frederick V of Denmark on the initiation of J.D. Michaelis, the renowned German biblical scholar, for the scientific exploration of *Egypt, *Arabia, *Syria, and *Persia (1761–67), visiting *Jerusalem in 1766. He was assigned the position of surveyor and geographer. All the members of the expedition died during the trip, except Niebuhr, who saved his life and restored his health by adopting native habits in dress and food. Niebuhr's account of his travels, Reisebeschreibung nach Araxbien und andern umliegenden Laendern (2 vols., 1774–78), are considered classics on the geography, the people, the antiquities, and the archaeology of much of the district of Arabia which he traversed and were accepted with enthusiasm by Western scholars. A third volume, Reisen durch Syrien und Palaestina, was published by J. Olshausen in 1837. His books were translated into Dutch, French, and English. Two recent Arabic books sum up his travel to *Yemen and to *Iraq. His travels and publications are an important landmark for modern Oriental studies in the West in general and especially for the Jews of Yemen.


J. Wiesehöfer and S. Conermann (eds.), Carsten Niebuhr (17331815) und seine Zeit (2002); A. Klein-Franke, in: Pe'amim, 18 (1984), 80–101.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.