EETA is devoted to collating and digitally publishing post-antique travelogues about Egypt written prior to the Napoleonic Expedition (1798-1801). The early travelers who penned these accounts were not only explorers and adventurers, but in some cases also pilgrims, crusaders, scientists, and political envoys. The texts presented here thus reflect a wide range of information, covering flora, fauna, geography, politics, agriculture, crafts, medicine, folk beliefs, local customs, and more.
From an Egyptological perspective, the descriptions of ancient monuments and settlements preserved in individual entries are of the highest scientific value. Some of these sites have since been partially or even completely destroyed by human activities and so the travelogues are often their only remaining witnesses.
The focus on reports dating before the 19th century was informed both by content-related and practical reasons. On the one hand, Napoleon’s expedition was a turning point in the scientific study of Egypt and marked the beginning of a systematic exploration of the country. Thus, the earlier travelogues hold a special status as a rare source of information. On the other, the period under consideration dates from before the advent of mass tourism in Egypt (1869), from which time the number of travel reports grew exponentially to an amount that is nearly impossible to survey. Another consideration is that the natural and living conditions of pre-industrial Egypt are much closer to that of the ancient world, allowing for ethnographic comparisons.
The EETA project aims to bridge ancient, medieval, and modern Egypt, highlighting continuity and changes. Touching on diverse themes that can be traced over several millennia, it is a heuristic tool that stimulates multidisciplinary and comparative research. We welcome any cooperation with scholars who offer different perspectives on the as yet understudied genre of travelogues.