From the Nile Valley into the deserts: Max Weidenbach's diary as it documents the Lepsius Expedition (1842-1845)

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


At 19, Max Weidenbach was a trained artist and the youngest member in the team of six with the Egyptologist Richard Lepsius to travel to Egypt and Nubia commissioned by the King Friedrich Wilhlem IV of Prussia to explore and document the ancient monuments in a pioneering scientific expedition. Unexpectedly, in 2013, Weidenbach’s extensive expedition diary was found in the South Australian Museum in Adelaide. It is currently being prepared for publication.

The diary is an important new source, a mid-19th century voice on travel in and experience of the deep desert. Max's diary records the practicalities of the everyday life on the expedition but also his reactions to encountering the landscapes and the people with their traditions, his awareness of political issues and conflicts of the time, the dangers en route, an experience of near-death, the cooperation with and reliance on the locals as well as the role of travellers who had gone before them. The significance of the text lies in its first-hand and historical account of numerous monuments and sites that have since been transformed through archaeological exploration or are being endangered by modern civilization or have been lost entirely through 100 years of dam constructions along the Nile river.

The question is to what extent “legacy data”, in this case a view of ancient cultures 200 years ago, can influence, inspire and transform, our encounters as scholars today.
Period8 Nov 2020
Event titleHumans in Deserts: Stories of Exploitation and Survival
Event typeConference
LocationSydney, AustraliaShow on map