|Petra (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)|
Burckhardt’s great ambition was to discover the source of the River Niger. In England in 1809 he secured the backing of Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society and a key figure in encouraging African exploration, for a journey across the Sahara from Cairo. Burckhardt went to Cambridge to start learning Arabic so that he could pass himself off as a Muslim. On his way east, in Malta, he heard of a Dr Seetzen, who had set out from Egypt into Arabia in search of the lost city of Petra, but had been murdered. Burckhardt was naturally interested. He went to Aleppo in Syria, where he bought a small house and took lessons in Arabic from a friendly Christian Arab, the two of them smoking hubble-bubbles together. He also studied the Koran and Muslim law.
|English: The Silk Tomb, Petra, Jordan Français : Le tombeau de soie ou tombeau moiré, Pétra, Jordanie Deutsch: Jordanien, Petra, Seidengrab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
by Richard Cavendish (History Today)