'It is with the deepest Regret that I do myself the Honour of informing you that the Tigris Steamer was totally lost during a Hurricane of indescribable violence, which, after the short struggle of Eight Minutes, sent a fine Vessel to the Bottom in Five Fathoms Water, and deprived His Majesty of Fifteen valuable Men, with Five Natives in Addition.' Captain Francis Rawdon Chesney, leader of the Euphrates Expedition, 1834-7 to Sir John Cam Hobhouse, 2nd Baronet Broughton. 'Communications being thus established by canals sufficiently broad and deep, the rushing in of the two seas would restore the now Dead Sea to its ancient level, and convert it into an active channel of intercourse between Europe and Asia; the whole bulky commerce of which might then pass through this canal shortening the time of the voyage between England and India' Captain William Allen, The Dead Sea. A New Route to IndiaThe Dead Sea, in the Jordan Rift Valley, and the Tigris-Euphrates river system are two of the great natural features of the Middle East. But in the nineteenth century they had an added political significance: the one as a possible gateway for a Russian invasion of Egypt, the other as a potentially faster route to India. At least, that is the traditional explanation for the presence in the region of the major international powers of the day. This important new book questions this view. Drawing upon extensive original research, the author shows how geopolitical factors were but one aspect of a larger, more complex picture. Through a study of two important projects of the time - international efforts to determine the exact level of the Dead Sea, and Chesney's Euphrates Expedition to find a quicker route to India - Professor Goren shows how other forces than the games of the big powers and the interests of empire, were involved. He reveals the important role played by private individuals and organizations and their personal motivations and interests and establishes a wealth of new connections between the key players. The result is a work that adds an important new dimension to our existing understanding of this period. 'This tour de force will transform our understanding of the subject and prompt a range of fresh thinking on aspects of the history of the Middle East, Science, Imperialism and Bible studies. This is a work of exemplary scholarship - learned, reflective, and deeply considered.' Andrew Lambert, Laughton Professor of Naval History, Kings College, University of London.
Dead Sea Level
Science, Exploration and Imperial Interests in the Near East