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Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12


Burchard of Mt. Sion was a Dominican friar from Magdeburg in Lower Saxony who wrote the the most important description of the Holy Land from the 13th century. The earliest and longest account of his pilgrimage, which grew particularly popular during the 14th-18th centuries, described his journey from northern Germany to the Levant, where he stayed from 1274 to 1284, shortly before the fall of Acre, the last Crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, in 1291. The content of his description is based upon personal experience, research into ancient writings and earlier itineraries, and close study of scripture. In this passage that concludes his work, Burchard describes his journey sailing from southern Asia Minor down the Levantine coast to Egypt.


Transivi tutam terram illam usque Cappadociam et Seleuciam maritimam, et inde navigavi Cyprum et perambulavi pro magna parte regionem. Inde navigavi in Syriam et veni Tyrum, et post dies aliquot inde navigans per littus Palestine seu Philistiim pertransivi Caypham, montem Carmelum, Doram, Cesaream Palestine, Antipatridam, Ioppen, Iamniam, Accaron, Azotum, Ascalonem, Gazam, desertum totum arenosum usque ad ostia Nili fluminis. Inde veni Damiatam, que antiquitus Memphis dicitur. Hec est terra Yesse, in quo olim filii Israel morabantur, Pharaoni in luto et latere servientes. In hac eciam postea lapidatus est Ieremias. Benedictus sit Deus et Sanctus Matheus! Amen. 1

Textual Note

Ed. Laurent 1873


Ι have passed over the whole of this land as far as Cappadocia and Seleucia Maritima, and from there sailed to Cyprus, and wandered over the greater part of that region. From there Ι sailed to Syria and came to Tyre, and after a few days, sailing along the coast of Palestine or Philistiim, Ι passed by Caypha, Mount Carmel, Dora, Caesarea Palestinae, Antipatris, Ioppe, Iamnia, Accaron, Azotus, Ascalon, Gaza, and the whole sand desert up to the mouth of the Nile River. From there Ι came to Damiata, which in ancient times was called Memphis. This is the land of Jesse, where the Children of Israel once stayed, slaves to the Pharaoh “in mortar and brick”. In this land also Jeremiah was later stoned. Blessed be God and St. Matthew! Amen. 2

Translation Note

Adapted from Pringle 2018

Discussion Note

Burchard quotes the phrase “in mortar and brick” (in luto et latere) from Vulgate Exodus 1:14.

Works Cited

  • 1 Burchard of Mt. Sion, Burchardi de Monte Sion descriptio terrae sanctae, in Peregrinatores Medii Aevi Quatuor: Burchardus de Monte Sion, Ricoldus de Monte Crucis, Odoricus de Foro Julii, Wilbrandus de Oldenborg… Editio Secunda accessit Mag. Thietmari Peregrinatio, ed. J. M. C. Laurent, 2nd ed. (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1873), 1–100, ch: 13.12, p: 93-94.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record
  • 2 Burchard of Mt. Sion, Burchard of Mt. Sion OP: Description of the Holy Land (1274-85), in Pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 1187-1291, trans. Denys Pringle, Crusade Texts in Translation 23 (London: Routledge, 2018), 241–320, ch: 13.2, p: 319-320.Link to Zotero Bibliographic RecordLink to Worldcat Bibliographic record

How to Cite This Entry

Joseph L. Rife, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12,” in Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, entry published June 30, 2023,


Joseph L. Rife, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12.” In Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia, edited by Joseph L. Rife., edited by Joseph L. Rife. Caesarea City and Port Exploration Project, 2023. Entry published June 30, 2023.

About this Entry

Entry Title: Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12

Authorial and Editorial Responsibility:

  • Joseph L. Rife, general editor, Vanderbilt University
  • Joseph L. Rife, editor, Caesarea Maritima: A Collection of Testimonia
  • David A. Michelson, Daniel L. Schwartz, and William L. Potter, technical editor, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12
  • Joseph L. Rife, entry contributor, “Burchard of Mt. Sion, Description of the Holy Land 13.12

Additional Credit:

  • TEI encoding by William L. Potter
  • Electronic text added by Joseph L. Rife
  • Testimonia identified by Joseph L. Rife
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