Johann Ludwig Burckhardt

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Jean Louis Burckhardt
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt.png
Born (1784-11-24)November 24, 1784
Lausanne, Vaud
Died October 15, 1817(1817-10-15) (aged 32)
Cairo, Egypt Eyalet
Nationality Swiss
Occupation traveler, geographer, orientalist

Jean Louis (also known as John Lewis, Johann Ludwig) Burckhardt (November 24, 1784 – October 15, 1817) was a Swiss traveller, geographer, and orientalist. He wrote his letters in French and signed Louis. He is best known for rediscovering the ruins of the city of Petra in Jordan.


Youth and early travels[edit]

Burckhardt briefly studied Arabic at the University of Cambridge.[1]

Discoveries and death[edit]

After enduring privations and sufferings of the severest kind, he returned to Cairo in June 1815 in a state of great exhaustion; but in the spring of 1816 he travelled to Mount Sinai, returned to Cairo in June, and there again made preparations for his intended journey to Fezzan. Several hindrances prevented his pursuing this intention, and finally, in April 1817, when the long-expected caravan prepared to depart, he was seized by dysentery.[2]

Discovery of Hittite or Anatolian hieroglyphs[edit]

In early 19th century, Burckhardt was the first to discover Hittite or Luwian hieroglyphic script at Hama in Syria.[3]


His works were posthumously published by the African Association in the following order:


  1. ^ "Burckhardt, John Louis (BRKT809JL)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ New International Encyclopedia
  3. ^ The Decipherment of Hittite James Norman (Schmidt), Ancestral Voices: Decoding Ancient Languages, Four Winds Press, New York, 1975.


  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Burckhardt, John Lewis". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Paul Lunde, “The Lure of Mecca,” Saudi Aramco World, November/December 1974, pp. 14–21.
  • The Blue Nile, Alan Moorehead, Harper and Row, 1962.
  • Eduard His: Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (Scheik Ibrahim), in: Basler Gelehrte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Benno Schwabe & Co., Basel 1941, S. 25 - 31.

External links[edit]