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European travel literature on the Levant provides one of the most accessible, if not always accurate, sources for studying life and society in the Ottoman world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The prospects of adventure, trade, and pilgrimage attracted generations of European men and women, many of whom recorded their impressions of places and peoples encountered in the Near East. In view of Russia's proximity to the Ottoman Empire, not to mention Russian religious and cultural ties with the sultan's Eastern Orthodox Christians, travelers from Muscovite and Imperial Russia visited the Ottoman realm, and many of them, drawn to classical, biblical, and Byzantine sites, described what they saw, heard, and sensed. This article shares excerpts from a virtually neglected Russian account, penned by writer and diplomat Dmitrii V. Dashkov (1784-1839), who toured Ottoman Palestine in 1820; his travelogue merits attention for its eyewitness observation, telling detail, and vivid commentary on several topics, including the natural landscapes of Jerusalem and its environs. The Dashkov narrative offers but one example of the wealth of Slavic and Orthodox resources, both published and unpublished, that bear significance for the study of specific topics in Ottoman and Mediterranean history.


Originally published in Chronos, no. 10 (2004): 49-67

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