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Jean Louis Burckhardt




Born in Lausanne - Switzerland, 1784, lived in Germany and England. He was preparing himself for a trip to explore and study Africa, when he was instructed to go to the Middle East first, he began to study some Arabic and started a tough diet to get used to the expected lack of food in the area, in six weeks he moved to Malta for seven weeks more, continued Arabic lessons and trained on his new look as a Muslim Indian merchant, this disguise was for his protection and to help him get deeper into the Arab community. He went to Aleppo in 1809 and after three years of traveling he got to Cairo, on his way he spent one day in Petra, got in with a Bedouin guide from Elgee (Wadi Musa) through the Siq, to Qasr Al Bint, then got all the way to an area between the Snake Monument and Aaron's Tomb, and sacrificed the goat they had for the Prophet Aaron then got back to Elgee to continued his trip to Cairo.

At the time Petra was inhabited by the Bdouls, and was the pass way for Arabs from Maan or Wadi Musa going to Gaza, Burckhardt's description of Petra made the city carved in rocks, Described by the ancient travelers, no longer lost for the modern Europeans.



map of Petra by Burckhardt

Burckhardt's visit to Petra opened the door for many Europeans to visit and study the ancient city. His description of the ruins of Petra was not detailed due to the short time he spent there. His fear of the local Bedouins stopped him from showing interest and exploring tombs or even entering them, his plan of showing that he was a religious pilgrim, was to protect his money and writings about his travels from being stolen.
He died in Cairo five years later, spent it in traveling the region and writing about it and it's inhabitants. On his grave in the Islamic cemetery, his name was written: the Sheikh the Hadj Ibrahim al Mahdi Bin Abullah Burckhardt al Lauzani.
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