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The Representation of Cyprus by the German Traveller Carsten Niebuhr about 1766

Chariton Karanasios - Senior Researcher, Research Centre for Medieval and Modern Hellenism, Academy of Athens

 

Abstract

During his ‘Arab Journey’ (1761-1767), the German mathematician and cartographer Carsten Niebuhr (1733-1815) visited several countries, including Cyprus. The Arabia Expedition, supported by Frederick V of Denmark, was the first European scientific mission to the Arabian Peninsula. It began in Copenhagen, stopped in Istanbul and crossed Egypt, Arabia, Yemen, India, Persia, Aleppo, Cyprus and Jerusalem, returning to Denmark via Istanbul.

Niebuhr arrived in Cyprus on 18 July 1766, sailing from Iskenderun to Larnaca. He remained there until 25 July 1766, when he sailed to Jaffa on his way to Jerusalem. During his sojourn in Larnaca, Niebuhr was interested in finding Greek, Phoenician and other ancient inscriptions, although without great success. Based on his seven-day stay, the German traveller provided topographic, demographic, economic and religious information, as well as describing local clothing and a stance against tax evaders who had ravaged the area. He also reported stories of Levantines who travelled in the Eastern Mediterranean as adventurers. Although Niebuhr’s visit to Cyprus was brief, his information is of interest and adds to the accounts of other travellers to Cyprus.

 

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