The Penetration of Arabia: A Record of the Development of Western Knowledge Concerning the Arabian Peninsula


David George Hogarth (1862–1927) was a British archaeologist and scholar who between 1887 and 1907 worked on excavations in Cyprus, Greece, and several countries of the Middle East. In 1904 he published The Penetration of Arabia, a work which, as the subtitle indicates, was an attempt to chronicle the growth of Western knowledge about the Arabian Peninsula, rather than a first-hand account based on travel to the region.  The book has two sections. “The Pioneers” analyzes the historical geography of the region from the time of Claudius Ptolemy (second century), and includes discussions of explorations by 18th- and early-to-mid-19th-century travelers such as Carsten Niebuhr (1733–1815) and Domingo Badia y Leblich (1766–1818). The second section, entitled “The Successors,” covers the travels of mid-19th-century to early 20th-century explorers, including Richard Francis Burton, Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, William Gifford Palgrave, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Lady Anne Blunt, and Charles Montague Doughty. The book is organized not by the explorers, however, but by regions, for example, “Western Borderlands,” “Southern Borderlands,” “The Centre,” and so forth. Each chapter ends with a bibliography, and all of the chapters contain illustrations, maps, or photographs. During World War I, Hogarth was an associate of T.E. (Thomas Edward) Lawrence (1888–1935), better known as Lawrence of Arabia, with whom he worked in planning the early stages of the 1916 Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks.

Last updated: January 10, 2014