Burchardt, Hermann

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BURCHARDT, HERMANN (1857–1909), German explorer. The son of a wealthy merchant family in Berlin, Burchardt worked for many years in his father's business but was never happy there. Following his father's death he set out in 1890 on a series of travels to remote corners of Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, and Australia. Following a brief return to Berlin in 1892, during which he studied Oriental languages, he renewed his expeditions with a sharpened ethnological interest and greater linguistic equipment. In the course of his journeys he amassed a large collection of photographs of places never previously visited by Europeans, which was later presented to the Berlin University Library, and also collected legends and folklore of the areas he visited. While on an extended trip in Yemen he took an interest in the all-but-forgotten Jews of that country and later brought them to the attention of world Jewry. He met his death at the hands of marauders in the Arabian desert between Mecca and Sanʿa.

During his lifetime Burchardt contributed articles to various journals of ethnography. His photographs of South Arabian inscriptions were edited and published by Martin Hartman in his Orientalische Literaturzeitung (1907–09) and portions of his travel diaries were published posthumously by Eugen *Mittwoch in 1926, together with a detailed report written by Burchardt's traveling companion and Arabic tutor Ahmad al-Jarādi. He wrote essays on the Jews of Yemen in Ost und West (1902) and on the Jews of Persia in Ost und West (1906)


A. Jarādi, Aus dem Jemen; Herman Burchardts letzte Reise durch Suedarabien, ed. by E. Mittwoch (Ar. and Ger., 1926). add. bibliography: N. Yehuda, The Jews of Sana, As Seen by the Researchers Hermann Burchardt and Karl Rathens (Tel Aviv, 1982); A. Nippa, Lesen in alten Photographien aus Baalbeck; Photographien von Hermann Burchardt 1857–1909 (2000); I. Pluger-Schindlbeck, "Hermann Burchardt im Jemen; Photographische Reise 1900–1909," in: Hefte zur Kulturgeschichte des Jemens, Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, 3 (2005).

[Ephraim Fischoff]

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