Well Met! Friends and Travelling Companions of Rev. Thomas Bowles: Journals of Travels in Egypt, Petra and the Near East, 1854

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


This volume follows Rev. Thomas Bowles on his travels from Sri Lanka to Egypt and the Levant. His travel journals record the places seen and the often harsh travel conditions. Bowles' notes are amplified by chapters offering additional context and biographies for the broad cross-section of fascinating people encountered along the way. Throughout the two years of a grand tour as far as Australia and New Zealand (1852-4), Rev Thomas Bowles kept a daily journal, ultimately filling over 1000 pages in 3 volumes. Transcribed here is the part of the journals which took Bowles from Sri Lanka to Egypt and the Levant then on home. The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 saw a burgeoning interest by westerners in Egypt and the 'Holy Land'. Egypt offered astonishing ancient remains but also the attractions of its healthy winter climate, and exploration in the Levant drew attention to the immense ruins of Graeco-Roman civilization. Then came Burckhardt's re-discovery of Petra in 1812. Within a few years a pattern of travel emerged for westerners which included one or more of several months sailing down the Nile, undertaking the c. 40 days of the Long Desert Route from Cairo to Petra and Jerusalem, exploration of the Decapolis cities beyond the Jordan and a bold lunge across the desert to Palmyra. Any one of these was demanding and a large minority of these travellers - who included some women - became ill or suffered injuries; a few died. Many travellers kept notes or extensive journals, and some sent letters home. Some off these were later published but invariably sanitised. In recent years dozens of unpublished accounts have emerged, including two Travel Journals of the Rev. Thomas Bowles. Bowles undertook the demanding Long Desert Route in 1854. He records places seen and the experiences of often harsh travel conditions. More than that he met and travelled with many people along the way, representing a wonderful cross-section of often fascinating people: travellers, tourists, soldiers, businessmen, administrators, and many clergymen; mainly British and American; largely young - Bowles was 32; and a handful of courageous women. Complementing the journals are chapters explaining and amplifying what Bowles often took for granted and illustrating what he saw. Within them are biographical notes on many of his companions, not least the fifteen other westerners with whom he explored Petra in March 1854.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
Number of pages304
ISBN (Electronic)9781803274843
ISBN (Print)9781803274836
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2023

Publication series

NameArchaeological Lives


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