Four Months in Persia and a Visit to Trans-Caspia


Four Months in Persia and a Visit to Trans-Caspia is a compilation of articles that originally appeared in various newspapers and journals in India and the United Kingdom. The author, Cuthbert Edward Biddulph, was an official in the Indian Civil Service who specialized in Central Asian and Afghan affairs. The articles are based on travels that Biddulph undertook in 1890 and 1891. The first and longer part of the book concerns a four-month journey via the Orient Express to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) and from there to Baku (in present-day Azerbaijan) and on to Tehran, Isfahan, and other parts of Persia (present-day Iran). The second part documents a trip on the Russian-built Trans-Caspian Railroad through the region of the Russian Empire east of the Caspian Sea (known as Trans-Caspia). The places visited and described include, in present-day Turkmenistan, the city of Merv and the Merv Oasis and the fortress at Geok-Teppe; the Oxus River (today known as the Amu Darya, and forming the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan); and, in present-day Uzbekistan, Bukhara and Samarkand. Biddulph offers observations about the people, government administration, military forces, economics and economic development projects, and customs in the regions visited. On both journeys, he interacts with a variety of ethnic and linguistic groups, including Persians, Armenians, Turkmens, Afghans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kirghiz, and Russians. Biddulph was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, and entered the Indian Civil Service in 1878. He served in the Second Anglo-Afghan War of 1878‒80 and held various posts in British India. He died in 1899. His other works include Our Western Frontier of India, Afghan Politics, Afghan Poetry of the Seventeenth Century, and Army Reforms in Native States.

Last updated: September 30, 2016