1 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet3 Natural History Museum of Denmark, Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
In Yemen the Arabian Journey visited a Muslim country which was little known in Europe. Also the Christian highlands of Abyssinia, separated from Yemen by the Red Sea, were poorly known outside and were visited by few scientific travellers between 1750 and 1850. Most important were James Bruce (in 1768-1772), Henry Salt (in 1805 and 1809-1810) and Eduard Rüppell (in 1832-1833). All three interacted with all strata of Abyssinian society: rulers, nobility, clergy, traders and local peasants. They all followed similar routes in northern Abyssinia, collected general information and objects of natural history and studied Aksumite monuments. Bruce and Rüppell were also important collectors of old Abyssinian manuscripts. All three wrote travelogues for the general reader and commented on work of their predecessors. Yet their approach and attitudes to the country and its people were notably different: Bruce was an eccentric and wealthy Scottish laird with attitudes characteristic of his class. Salt, an English artist and secretary to a British peer of the realm, had more liberal attitudes. Rüppell, a German naturalist sent by the Senckenberg Naturforschende Gesellschaft, a learned association in Frankfurt, approached the Abyssinians with scholarly attitudes of his time. Bruce, Salt and Rüppell expressed views about the past and present of the Christian Abyssinian civilisation; Salt also nourished a political vision for future interaction between Abyssinia and Britain.
Universitet Kul'tury: Proceedings of a Symposium on the Occasion of the 250th Anniversary of the the Royal Danish Expedition To Arabia Felix, 2013, p. 161-194