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Ian Straughn

Islamic Archaeology

Archaeology and Religion

Islamic Landscapes

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology



Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Brown University
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
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Posted at Apr 30/2007 12:46AM:
Elly: Sir Richard Burton was an English explorer/adventurer/ethnographer/spy in the mid-19th century. In 1853, he took on the persona of an Indian Pashtun in Egypt, and went on hajj to Mecca and Medina. He then recounted his experiences along this journey, describing the places he visited and the people he encountered, publishing "A Personal Narrative of a Journey to al-Madinah and Meccah" for a Western audience. As literature, it is an engaging piece of adventure writing, but also has scholarly merit for its description of Medina and Mecca. Burton is a classic Orientalist, presenting a romantic, sensationalized picture of Arabia, but one that is honestly trying to bring an understanding of the Arabia to the Western world. His role as part of an imperialist endeavor is important, and questions can be raised regarding the motivations for his journey.