BAR 35:03, May/Jun 2009
Past Perfect: Flora and Fauna of Mt. Sedom
Henry Baker Tristram (1822–1906) was an English clergyman, Biblical scholar, world traveler and ornithologist.
He studied at Durham School and Lincoln College, Oxford, was ordained a priest and eventually served as canon of Durham Cathedral in 1873. He was secretary to the governor of Bermuda from 1847 to 1849.
Tristram co-founded the British Ornithologists Union and sold his extensive collection of birds to the World Museum Liverpool. Tristram’s starling, Tristram’s warbler and Tristram’s woodpecker are a few birds named for him.
During several trips to Palestine between 1858 and 1881, Tristram observed, documented and collected species in their natural habitat, making him a pioneer of Palestine zoology. Following are excerpts from one of his many travelogues, The Land of Israel, a Journal of Travels in Palestine (1865), representing his observations and methods. This extract is from a trip near the Dead Sea noting his impressions of various flora and fauna around Mt. Sedom (“Jebel Usdum”).