*Our online shop is open! National and international shipping are operational.
For more information please click here*

NIEBUHR, Carsten.

Beschreibung von Arabien.

Aus eigenen Beobachtungen und im Lande selbst gesammelten Nachrichten abgefasset.

Copenhagen : 1772 Stock Code: 46821
Reserve Ask us a question


First edition. Niebuhr trained as a surveyor in order to support himself into his majority, then receiving a small inheritance. He next studied mathematics at Göttingen before joining the Hanoverian corps of engineers. In 1760 he was invited to join the scientific expedition being sent out by Frederick V of Denmark. Originally intended for the purpose of illustrating certain passages from the Old Testament, it developed truly encyclopaedic ambitions, the party consisting of Niebuhr as surveyor, Friedrich Christian von Haven, a Danish linguist and orientalist, Peter Forrskål, a Linnaean naturalist, Christian Carl Kramer, a doctor and zoologist, Georg Baurenfeind, the expeditions artist, and Berggren, a Swedish ex-soldier. In the event Niebuhr was the only one to return.
From Constantinople they proceeded to Egypt and spent a year there, ascending the Nile and visiting Suez and Mount Sinai. "Disguised as pilgrims they left Suez in October 1762 for Jiddah, from where they advanced down the coast in a tarrad (an open boat), making frequent landings as far as Al Luhayyah in Northern Yemen" (Howgego). On their way to Mocha, Niebuhr and Forrskål contracted malaria, and on arrival von Haven died, swiftly followed by Forrskål, and by late 1763 the whole party were so ill that they were carried onto a vessel bound for Bombay. On the voyage Berggren and Baurenfeind died, followed by Kramer in early 1764, leaving Niebuhr as the only survivor, seemingly protected by his adoption of native dress and diet.
Continuing alone he visited Muscat, Bushire, Shiraz, Persepolis, Babylon, Baghdad, Mosul, Aleppo, Cyprus, and Jerusalem. "Niebuhr described the town and its inhabitants in minute detail and made a map of the surrounding area. Continuing northward along the coast, he crossed the Taurus mountains of Turkey to Brusa and Constantinople, then made his way homeward through Poland and Germany."
Niebuhr published in Denmark, under the patronage of the schizophrenic king, Christian VII, to whom the book is dedicated, the cost of the plates being defrayed by the government. Niebuhr was a remarkably conscientious and accurate observer, and this official account of his travels has long been considered one of the classic accounts of the geography, people, antiquities and archaeology of the region, his maps remaining in use for over 100 years.

Confused? Read our glossary


Quarto (249 x 186 mm). Modern pale tan half morocco on marbled boards, darker tan label to spine, floral devices gilt in compartments, edges red.


Title page vignette of geography and astronomy, arms of the House of Oldenburg as headpiece to the dedication, 18 plates, 4 of them folding, 2 of these coloured, 7 maps, all but one of them folding, the large map of Yemen at the rear being coloured in out


Small library stamps of "Bibliothek Prof. Engels" to title and verso of the dedication leaf, light browning, occasional foxing, but overall a very good copy.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book