An Arabian Utopia: The Western Discovery of Oman

Hardcover | August 29, 2010

byAlastair Hamilton

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Even though Oman had always been familiar to travellers sailing between Europe and India or Persia, it was its coast alone that was known. Greeks and Romans had charted it, medieval merchants traded on it, and in the early sixteenth century the Portuguese conquered its main towns, yet theinterior of Oman was all but entirely unknown and would remain so until the early nineteenth century. Only after the ejection of the Portuguese in 1650 and an independent Oman had built an empire of its own, stretching round the Indian Ocean from India to Zanzibar, did Muscat, the capital, start tobe visited by western powers eager to obtain commercial concessions and political influence. In the nineteenth century, for the first time, a very few, mainly English, explorers ventured inland and embarked on the true discovery of Oman. But even that was sporadic. As long as there was a powerfulruler, the travellers were protected, but by the late nineteenth century the rulers in Muscat had lost control over the interior and it was not until well into the twentieth century that explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger could investigate the south and that the oil companies could begin to chartthe centre and the west. Oman was the last Arab country to be fully explored by western travellers and this book examines and discusses the ways in which the emergent knowledge of Oman was propagated in the West, from the earliest times to 1970, by explorers, missionaries, diplomats, artists,geologists and naturalists, and by those scholars who gradually uncovered the manuscripts and antiquities that allowed them to piece together the history of the area.

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Even though Oman had always been familiar to travellers sailing between Europe and India or Persia, it was its coast alone that was known. Greeks and Romans had charted it, medieval merchants traded on it, and in the early sixteenth century the Portuguese conquered its main towns, yet theinterior of Oman was all but entirely unknown an...

Alastair Hamilton, Former Louise C. Thijssen Schoute Professor of the History of Ideas at Leiden University, is currently the Arcadian Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced Study, London University, attached to the Warburg Institute. He has worked for many years, and published extensively, on relations between Europe and the Ar...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:260 pagesPublished:August 29, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199581606

ISBN - 13:9780199581603

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Land of Heat, Perfumes and Sailors from Antiquity to the Renaissance2. The 'Good Towns' of the Coast: The Portuguese Occupation of Oman3. The New Era: Independence and Foreign Wooers4. An Arabian Utopia: Enlightened Impressions5. The Growing Friendship: the British and Oman6. 'The Wealthiest and Most Popular Prince throughout Arabia'. Sa'id, the Sultan of Muscat7. Imperialism and Humanitarianism: the Attraction of Zanzibar8. The Palinurus Period: the Exploration of the Omani Coast and Interior9. The Unpenetrated Country: Exotic Muscat and its Inaccessible Hinterland10. The 'Dearth of Information' Remedied11. Muscat in Decline12. Arcadia in the South. The Exploration of DhofarConclusion

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"... the authors show, with convincing detail, that [Du Ryer] was a real scholar, a man whose practical training illumined and enriched his intellectual formation." --Edmund Bosworth, Times Literary Supplement