Pococke’s Exploration of The Eastern Mediterranean.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

Richard Pococke, A Description of the East and some other countries, Vol II.

Part 1 – Observations on Palestine or The Holy Land, Syria, Mesopotamia, Cyprus and Candia.

Part 2 – Observations of the Greek island of the Archipelago and of Asia Minor. Published in London 1745. Presented to Worcester Cathedral library by Rev. W.M. Kingsmill.

There are numerous accounts of exploration and discovery in Worcester Cathedral Library and Archive. If you rummage through the shelves it seems that you can travel to all corners of the globe.

I like what this book demonstrates about people in the eighteenth-century – that despite the lack of commercial travel, people were intrigued by different cultures and were interested in learning about the world. Before the internet made it possible to see what the world looked like without having to travel anywhere, books like Pococke’s enabled others to learn about various places across the globe.

Previously published accounts of Egypt received a “kind and unexpected reception from the rest of the world”. This encouraged Pococke to publish his own accounts of exploration. What I find most engaging, is that the book is educational as much as it is a fascinating read. Works like these made it possible for people to learn about countries and cultures very different from their own.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

This book initially interested me as it contains a diverse range of information. It is more than just descriptions of where Pococke went and what he and his team did. Instead, his observations address such aspects as culture, climate, the natural environment, history, geography, religion, architecture and sculpture.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

Throughout the book are charming drawings of temples, sculptures, antiques, buildings and plants from the various countries Pococke travelled to.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

The pictorial element that each drawing adds to the book, supports the text and allows the reader to see some of the wonderful aspects of culture these countries presented to explorers. Pococke also inserts maps of the individual countries he visits.

Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (UK)

These aid the reader in understanding a country’s geographical location and act as a useful reference for the places he discusses.

As a whole, the book is a visually engaging account of the Eastern Mediterranean, which enabled people to learn about life and culture outside eighteenth-century Britain.

Victoria Jones

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