Musil, Alois°

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MUSIL, ALOIS ° (1868–1944), Czech Orientalist, born in Rychtarov in Bohemia. He studied at the theological faculty of Olomouc and was ordained a priest in 1891; in 1895 he went to Jerusalem to join the Dominican Ecole Biblique. His field exploration began with a trip to *Egypt in 1896 and to Petra in 1897, when he traveled from *Gaza to *Damascus by way of the Negev and Transjordan. In 1898 the Vienna Academy sent him on a mission to Arabia Petrea, which he explored until 1902, discovering the desert palaces at Qusayr ʿAmra, Tūba, al-Bāyir, and al-Muwaqqar. He was one of the first explorers of the ancient cities of the Negev. In addition to archaeology, he was greatly interested in mapping and in the manners and customs of the Bedouin. From 1902 to 1909 he taught at Olomouc and from 1909 to 1918 at Vienna. He explored the Syrian Desert in 1908–09, the northern *Hejaz in 1910, and the Palmyrene and northern *Arabia to the Hejaz in 1912–15; the last mission was semipolitical. In 1920 he began to teach at Prague University. Musil published Ḳuṣejr ʿAmra und andere Schloesser… (2 vols., 1902); Arabia Petraea (Ger., 4 vols., 1907–08), which contains the first good map of the Negev; and a four-volume series of topographical itineraries through northern Arabia, including maps of the region (1926–28). He was an exact observer, although his archaeological training was insufficient.


Rypka, in: Archiv Orientálni, 10 (1938), 1ff.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]