Documenting early Persian travels

24th January 2019


Why did Europeans journey to the Safavid Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries?


Former Visiting Fellow, Professor Elio Brancaforte, discusses the tales of travellers, mostly Portuguese and Italian, visiting the vast kingdom located around modern day Iran from the beginning of the 1600s.

In this fascinating 45 minute lecture, Professor Brancaforte describes the preparations necessary for the long and arduous journey, either by land or by ship, as well as the challenges of the journey itself. He discusses the findings of the travellers, based on their journals and published travel reports – including the perceived geography of the area, religious beliefs, customs, cultures, civilisations, plants, animals, insects and more.

The representation of 'reality' in early modern European travel accounts of the Safavid Empire in the 17th and 18th centuries is supported by Wadham College Library's wonderful collection of 17th and 18th century travel accounts.

Professor Brancaforte is based at Tulane University, New Orleans, and was a Visiting Fellow at Wadham in 2018.

  • Maps and illustrations from the Wadham Library collection