For amateur historians and trivia collectors everywhere

Location: Masterton, New Zealand

I survived school history despite the best efforts of the education system to bore me to death. Many years later, I discovered Treaties, dates, the movement of nations, are mere context. The fascination is in the details.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

O.K., so posts were non-existent while I was moving house. But I'm in, if not quite settled, and back on the blog. Cue riotous applause.

Back just in time to celebrate the birthday of 19th century explorer John Lewis Burckhardt, born in Lausanne, Switzerland, this day in 1784. He came to England in 1806, with a letter of introduction to Sir Joseph Banks, and offered "his services as an explorer to the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior Parts of Africa." Learning Arabic and disguising himself as a Muslim (as you would), he set off to explore the Dark Continent. In his 'Travels in Nubia' he wrote -

"I left Assouan on February 24, 1813, to make my journey through Nubia. ...... I carried with me nothing but my gun, sabre, and pistol, a provision bag, and a woollen mantle, which served either for a carpet or a covering during the night. I was dressed in the blue gown of the merchants of Upper Egypt. After estimating the expense I was likely to incur in Nubia, I put eight Spanish dollars into my purse in conformity with the principle I have consistently acted upon during my travels - viz., that the less the traveller spends while on the march, and the less money he carries with him, the less likely are his travelling projects to miscarry."
('The World's Great Books', Vol. 1, c.1910)

Today, we've progressed to excess baggage, excess airport security, and "don't leave home without it".


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