Johannes Østrup’s journey of discovery: exploring the value of centuries-old scientific records Dig into archive records. Leaf through forgotten research in books that were written in foreign tongues. Centuries-old observations can provide important perspectives on the archaeological record, as Eva Mortensen and Rubina Raja highlight in this account of a pioneering Danish explorer in the Syrian Desert.

The Past wrote a great contribution on Johannes Østrup's newly translated work 'Shifting Horizons : Observations from a Ride Through the Syrian Desert and Asia Minor' (Brepols, 2022)

In 1891, the Danish philologist Johannes Østrup (1867-1938) set out on a journey that was as adventurous as it was scientific. For two years he explored parts of Egypt, the Middle East, and Asia Minor. Dressed partly in Arab clothes, and partly in Western-style attire, he cut a distinctive figure as he traversed the Syrian Desert, before riding from Homs to Copenhagen, via Damascus and Constantinople, on his faithful companion, a grey thoroughbred stallion that he picked up from the Bedouin Sbâ tribe.

Shortly after returning to Denmark, he published his observations. That he did so in Danish – his mother tongue – should occasion no surprise. For scholars and enthusiasts alike with... Continue Reading