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Travelers' Accounts

Travelers' accounts of their journeys and the lands they visit are important sources in understanding the past.  As outsiders, travelers often note aspects of a culture that are too commonplace for local commentators to mention. More than this, travelers often provide some insight into how their own society understood itself in relation to other cultures.Throughout the Internet History Sourcebooks Project, there are a large number of travelers' accounts. The goal of this page is simply to bring them together. Since I expect users to be interested in the more general phenomenon of outsider descriptions, some other accounts that are not strictly travelers' accounts have have been included.

Contents Ancient Travelers

Greek Travelers

Collected Accounts

Herodotus Others Roman Travelers

Medieval Travelers


Pilgrims and Missionaries Other Accounts

Early Modern European Travelers (16-17th Centuries)


Missionaries Other Travelers Modern European Travelers (18th Century)

Modern European Travelers (19th Century)


  • Richard Francis Burton: Terminal Essay, from his edition of the Arabian Nights
Middle East India Japan Latin America
  • Pierre Denis: The Coffee Fazenda of Brazil, excerpts. 1911
  • H. M. Tomlinson: The Sea and the Jungle, 1912 [At ibiblio]
    "Narrative of the voyage of the tramp steamer Capella from Swansea to Para in the Brazils, and thence 2000 miles along the forests of the Amazon.."
Jewish Travelers
  • The Medieval Jewish Kingdom of the Khazars, 740-1259
    various contemporary accounts.
  • Judah Ha-Levi (ca 1075-1141): The Kuzari, also known as The Book of Argument and Proof in Defense of the Despised Faith (Kitab al Khazari).
    The entire first book of the Kuzari, a philosophical treatise written by the Spanish Jewish philosopher and poet, Judah Ha-Levi. It is written in the form of a dialogue, purportedly between the king of the Khazars and the representatives of various belief systems, culminating with a rabbi.
  • Benjamin of Tudela (1160-1173): The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela Critical Text, Translation and Commentary by Marcus Nathan Adler.
Muslim Travelers Chinese Travelers Japanese Travelers Printed Primary Sources

Dawson, Christopher, ed. Mission to Asia. Toronto: Medieval Academy Reprints/Univeristy of Toronto Press, 1980. [First pub 1995.]
(texts of William of Rubruck and John of Plano Carpini)

Early Travels in Palestine; comprising the narratives of Arculf, Willibald, Bernard, Saewulf, Sigurd, Benjamin of Tudela, Sir John Maundeville, De La Brocquière, and Maundrell. Edited, with notes, by Thomas Wright. London, H. G. Bohn, 1848. Repr. New York, AMS Press, 1969.

Gingras, G. E. Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage. Ancient Christian Writers 38. New York: 1970.

Jacob D'Ancona. The City of Light : The Hidden Journal of the Man Who Entered China Four Years Before Marco Polo. Translated by David Selbourne. New York: 2000.
-Highly controversial and dubious "primary source" relying as yet unproduced manuscripts.

Majeska, George, P., Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. Washington, D.C.: 1984

Ricoldo da Montecroce, 1242 or 3-1320. Liber peregrinationis. French & Latin. Pérégrination en Terre Sainte et au Proche Orient : texte latin et traduction ; Lettres sur la chute de Saint-Jean D'Acre. Traduction par René Kappler. Paris : H. Champion, 1997.

Wilkinson, John. Egeria's Travels to the Holy Land. Revised ed. Jerusalem: Ariel Publishing House, 1981.  3rd. ed. Warminster, England : Aris & Phillips, 1999.

Secondary Literature


Bentley, Jerry H. Old World Encounters; Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times. London:  Oxford University Press, 1993.

Debenham, Frank. Discovery and Exploration, an Atlas-History of Man's Wanderings. London: Geographical Products Ltd., 1960.

Franck, Irene M., and David M. Brownstone. To the Ends of the Earth; the Great Travel and Trade Routes of Human History. New York: Facts on File, 1984.

von Martels, Zweder. Travel Fact and Travel Fiction: Studies on Fiction, Literary Tradition. 1994.

Ancient Travelers

Medieval Pilgrims

Browner, Jessica A. "Viking" Pilgrimage to the Holy Land fram! fram! cristmenn, crossmenn, konungsmenn! (Oláfs saga helga, ch. 224.). Essays in History 34 (1992)

Campbell, Mary. The Witness and the Other World: Exotic Travel European Travel Writing 400-1600. Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1988.

Elm, Susanna.  "Perceptions of Jerusalem Pilgrimage as Reflected in Two Early Sources on Female Pilgrimage (3rd and 4th centuries AD)."  Studia patristica 20 (ed. by E Livingstone)(1989): 219-223.

Howard, Donald. Writers and Pilgrims: Medieval Pilgrimage Narratives and their Posterity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

Ousterhout, Robert, ed. The Blessings of Pilgrimage.  Baltimore: University of Illinois Press, 1990.

Stone, Michael E. "Holy Land Pilgrimages of Armenians before the Arab Conquest." Revue biblique 93 (1986): 93-110.

Medieval Travelers

Gumilev, L.N. Searches for an Imaginary Kingdom; the Legend of the Kingdom of Prester John. trans., R.E.F. Smith. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Humble, Richard. Marco Polo. New York : F. Watts, 1975,  1990.

Lynch, Joseph. "The pilgrimages of Fulk Nerra, Count of the Angevins, 987-1040."  In.Religion, Culture, and Society in the Early Middle Ages: Studies in Honor of Richard E Sullivan.  Edited by Thomas F. X. Noble and John Contreni.  Kalamazoo MI: Medieval Institute, 1987,

McNeill, William H. "The Caravan World," in Reflections on World Civilizations - A Reader, Vol. I - Prehistory to 1600. eds.,

Ronald H. Fritze, James S. Olson, Randy W. Roberts. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

Mezciems, Jenny. ''Tis not to divert the Reader: Moral and Literary Determinants in some Early Travel Narratives." In The Art of Travel. Edited by Philip Dodd. London, England; Totowa, N.J.: Frank Cass, 1982.

Moule, A.C. Quinsai, with Other Notes on Marco Polo. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957.

Olschki, Leonardo. Marco Polo's Precursors. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943, 1972

Olschki, Leonardo. Marco Polo's Asia: An Introduction to His Description of the World. B erkeley, University of California Press, 1960.

Seymour, M. C. Sir John Mandeville. Aldershot : Variorum, c1993.

Sykes, Percy. The Quest for Cathay. London: A. & C. Black,, 1936.

Wood, Frances. Did Marco Polo go to China? London: Secker & Warburg, 1995; Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, 1996

Early Modern Travelers

Jewish Travelers

Muslim Travelers

Dunn, Ross E. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century. London: Croom Helm, 1986.

Chinese Travelers

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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 6 October 2023 [CV]


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