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Detailed map of the Arabian Peninsula and contiguous regions, drawn from the maps of German traveller Carsten Niebuhr.

The map provides a detailed treatment of the Arabian Peninsula, based in part of Niebuhr's observations.  The details in the Emirates are of particular note, with a number of place names referenced, including:

  • Ras Mussendom
  • Dsjulfar
  • Seer
  • Luna
  • Chorfakan
  • Samahe
  • Deh Rogn
  • el Katif au Turc
  • Aual

Carsten Niebuhr

Originally Niebuhr planned to be a surveyor, but in 1757 he went to the Georgia Augusta University of Göttingen, at this time Germany's most progressive institution of higher education. In 1760 Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791) recommended Niebuhr as a participant in the Royal Danish Arabia Expedition (1761-1767), mounted by Frederick V of Denmark (1722-1766). For a year and a half before the expedition Niebuhr studied mathematics, cartography and navigational astronomy under Tobias Mayer (1723-1762), one of the premier astronomers of the 18th century, and the author of the Lunar Distance Method for determining longitude. Niebuhr's observations during the Arabia Expedition proved the accuracy and the practicality of this method for use by mariners at sea.

The expedition sailed in January 1761 via Marseilles and Malta to Istanbul and Alexandria. Then the members of the expedition visited Cairo and Sinai, before traversing the Red Sea via Jiddah to Yemen, which was their main destination. 

In Sanaʽa, the members of the expedition had an audience with the Imam of Yemen al-Mahdi Abbas (1719-1775), before returning to Mocha.

From Mocha the expedition continued to Bombay, losing several of its members. Niebuhr was the only surviving member by the time the expedition reached Bombay. He stayed in Bombay for fourteen months and then returned home by way of Muscat, Bushire, Shiraz and Persepolis. His copies of the cuneiform inscriptions at Persepolis proved to be a key turning-point in the decipherment of cuneiform, and the birth of Assyriology.

Louis Brion de la Tour Biography

Louis Brion de la Tour (ca. 1743-1803) was a French geographer and demographer. Little is known about Louis’ early life, but some glimpses of his professional life survive. He did achieve the title of Ingénieur Géographe du Roi. Much of his work was done in partnership with Louis Charles Desnos, who was bookseller and geographical engineer for globes to the Danish Crown. He worked on the Indicateur fidèle ou guide des voyageurs, qui enseigne toutes les routes royales between 1762 and 1785. During his career he also worked on several atlases. By 1795, he had gained a pension from the National Assembly. Perhaps this pension was granted in part because his son, also Louis Brion de la Tour (1763-1823), was an engraver who made Revolutionary prints, as well as maps.