Travel Routes of Northern Arabia


Shown here is a rough map of the Bedouin grazing routes in the Arabian Desert from Palmyra, Syria, in the north to Hijaz (in present-day Saudi Arabia) in the south. The map was published by the Société de Géographie (Geographical Society) of France in 1884. It provides little precise topographic detail, but significant features such as “basalt plateau” or “year-round water flow” are noted. Approximate boundaries of some tribal subdivisions of the widely dispersed Shammar confederation are shown with indication of their traditional pasturage. Also marked are oases and pre-Islamic sites. Inset maps give details of the oasis towns of Khaybar and Madaʼin Salih. Relief is shown by contour lines and spot elevation in meters, and scale is given in kilometers. An Arabic−French glossary of topographical terms and a key to transliteration of Arabic words are provided. French traveler Charles Huber (1837−84) explored this area in 1879−81 under a charge from the French minister of education, and again in 1883−84. This map was made during his first exploration. More detailed maps and sketches accompanied the publication of his full travel account, Journal d’un voyage en Arabie, 1883-1884 (Journal of an expedition in Arabia, 1883-1884). Huber’s travels and publications were sponsored by the French government and by the Société. In 1884, while on his second trip, Huber was robbed near Jiddah and murdered by his guides. The map appeared in the Bulletin of the Société. It was designed by cartographer Jules Hanson (1849−1931) and produced at the Erhard Press, a prominent engraver and printer.

Last updated: March 21, 2016