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Alois Musil

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Alois Musil June 30, 1868, Rychtářov cs German: Richtersdorf, now part of Vyškov German: Wischau, Margravial Moravia, Imp&R Imperial and Royal – April 12, 1944, Otryby German: Wotrib, Soběšín, Bohemia was a Czech theologist, orientalist, explorer and writer

Musil was the oldest son born into the family of a poor farmer He was a second cousin of Robert Musil, a famous writer 1 In the years 1887–1891 he studied Roman Catholic theology at the University of Olomouc, was consecrated as a priest in 1891 and received a doctorate in theology in 1895 In the years 1895–1898 he studied at the Dominican Biblical School in Jerusalem, in 1897-1898 at the Jesuit University of St Joseph in Beirut, 1899 in London, Cambridge and Berlin

He traveled extensively throughout the Arab world and kept coming back to it until 1917, collecting a huge body of scientific material Among his discoveries was the desert castle of Qasr Amra from the 8th century with figural Islamic paintings In the process of trying to steal the now-famed Umayyad fresco Painting of the Six Kings from Qasr Amra, he permanently damaged the painting2 He later developed a serious lung disease

Between his trips Musil continued working on his publications and lecturing In 1902 he became professor of theology at the University of Olomouc, and in 1909, professor of Biblical studies and Arabic at Vienna University In addition to modern and classical languages, he mastered 35 dialects of Arabic He was so well aquainted with the Rwala-Beduins that he was accepted into the tribe as "Sheich Musa"

During World War I he was sent to the Middle East to eliminate British attempts to instigate a revolution against the Ottoman Empire, thus being an opponent of T E Lawrence After the war he became a professor at Charles University in Prague 1920, despite opposing voices resenting his close ties with the House of Habsburg He helped to establish the Oriental Institute of the Academy of Sciences in Prague Orientální ústav Akademie Věd, in 1927

In 1917 he journeyed through the Middle East with Archduke Hubert Salvator of Austria; there are suggestions that the mission had a political motive involving Arab Revolt against the Ottoman government3

In cooperation with the American industrialist Charles Richard Crane he published his works in English 1922–23 In addition to scientific work and popular travel books he published 21 novels for young readers

Musil worked for Charles University until 1938, but was active until the very end of his life He died due to kidney dysfunction complicated by lung disease


  • 1 Works
  • 2 Note
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links


  • Kuseir 'Amra und andere Schlösser östlich von Moab, Wien 1902
  • Sieben samaritanische Inschriften aus Damaskus, Wien 1903
  • Od stvoření do potopy From Creation to the Floo, Prag 1905
  • Auf den Spuren der Geschichte des Alten Testaments, 2 Bde, Olmütz 1906/07
  • Kuseir 'Amra, 2 Bde, Wien 1907
  • Arabia Petraea, 4 Bde, Wien 1907/08
  • Ethnologischer Reisebericht, Wien 1908
  • Im nördlichen Hegaz, Wien 1911
  • Zur Zeitgeschichte Arabiens, Leipzig 1918
  • The Manners and Customs of the Rwala Bedouins, 1928
  • In the Arabian Desert, arranged for publication by Katherine McGiffort, New York 1930
  • Krest'anské Církve dnešního orienta The Christian Churches in the present day Orient, Olmütz 1939
  • 1910 until 1933 over 1500 articles, contributions to collected essays, and new paper articles, the most important ones are collected in: Dnešní Orient, 11 Bde, Prag 1934–1941


  • His image appears on a 21Kc Czech Republic postage stamp


  1. ^ 1
  2. ^ Fowden, Garth 20 September 2004 Qusayr 'Amra: Art and the Umayyad Elite in Late Antique Syria University of California Press p 198 ISBN 978-0-520-92960-9 
  3. ^ "From Moravia to Arabia" Retrieved 26 November 2013 

External linksedit

  • Detailed biography of Musil
  • English article on Radio Prague
  • Biography, bibliography in Czech
  • Academic Society of Alois Musil in Czech
  • Details of Musil's discoveries in Czech
See also: Musil

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