Germer, Renate

Orient statt Mecklenburg

Die Reisen des Grafen und der Gräfin von Schlieffen 1850 bis 1853

21.0 x 27.0 cm, 302 p., 29 illustrations b/w, 308 illustrations color, hardback
79,00 €

ISBN: 9783954905010
Table of Contents

Short Description

Count Wilhelm von Schlieffen and his mother Countess Sophie von Schlieffen, née von Jagow, travelled through Egypt and Sudan in the years 1851–1853. In their travel journal, written by the Count and edited by the Countess, which was discovered in the State Main Archive of Schwerin a few years ago, they give account both of the archaeological sites they visited along the Nile and the flora and fauna of Kordofan, through which they travelled via camel caravan. Contrary to many researchers on Africa of their time, Count Wilhelm and Countess Sophia also describe in great detail their encounters with the many diverse people they have met in the course of their journey.


In the years 1851–1853 Count Wilhelm von Schlieffen travelled to Egypt and Sudan. He had inherited a large estate in Mecklenburg, but at only 20 was not yet of age. His widowed mother, Countess Sophie von Schlieffen, née von Jagow, strictly guided and supervised his education according to her religious beliefs. She has captured her thoughts on her son’s development in a plethora of diary entries, holding more than 2.700 pages. In order to shield her son from the influence of his family and legal guardian she proceeded to travel with him quite early on, first within Europe, later to Egypt and Sudan.
In Egypt and Nubia mother and son, like all tourists, travelled on the Nile via a so-called dahabeah, visiting many ancient monuments. The Egyptologist Richard Lepsius, who was acquainted with the Countess, had provided Count Wilhelm with several Egyptological tasks such as copying or casting inscriptions, which the Count duly fulfilled. Due to a lack of time and because of bureaucratic difficulties he was not able to perform any of a number of excavations, which Lepsius had suggested to him. The Count did, however, bring to Lepsius’ attention the stela of King Nastasen in Dongola, dating to the 4th century BC, which was later gifted to the Egyptian Museum of Berlin by the Egyptian viceroy. From Dongola, the Count and Countess travelled via camel caravan to El-Obeid, the capital of Kordofan, and then continued east towards the Nile. Countess von Schlieffen was the first European woman to have reached the White Nile south of Khartoum. Next to the ancient monuments, the natural world of the foreign countries was of great interest to the Count. Being a keen observer of flora and fauna, he collected hides for the Zoological Museum of Berlin; among these was a newly discovered type of bat, which was named for the Count. As Count Wilhelm spoke Arabic, he was able to converse with people of very diverse ethnicities. His travel journal thus makes for an unusual and remarkably versatile account, in particular of mid-19th century Sudan.

Biographical Note

Renate Germer (*1946) studied Biology and Egyptology and obtained a doctorate with a dissertation on medicinal plants in ancient Egypt from the University of Hamburg, where she also qualified as professor. Her research focused on projects that combined natural sciences and Egyptology, with particular focus on the study of ancient Egyptian mummies, but also of plant remains and textiles preserved from the Pharaonic period.

Series Description

“Menschen - Reisen - Forschungen. Wissenschaftsgeschichte aus Ägypten” is a new series published by the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo. It comprises biographical works about individual researchers and travellers in Egypt, especially in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The extensive material from the archives of the Institute in Cairo is thereby made available to a growing readership with an interest in the scientific history of oriental countries. Each volume in this series is scientifically sound, extensively illustrated and written in an accessible style.


Archaeology (526) || Archaeology by period / region (443) || Aswan (3) || Classic travel writing (13) || Egypt (242) || History (834) || History: specific events & topics (289) || MRF (6) || Nile Valley and Delta (4) || North Africa (247) || Orient (4) || Social & cultural history (51) || Sudan (11) || Travel & holiday (28) || Travel writing (13) || Ägypter (6) || Ägyptisch (7) || Ägyptologie (30)