Henry Baker Tristram (1822 – 1906) was an English priest; naturalist, scholar; traveler, and ornithologist. Tristram is one of the first European scholars to arrive in Israel; whose writings and collection of stuffed animals and maples constitute an important source of knowledge about the wildlife of Israel in the 19th century. Tristram became interested in the world of nature from an early age. By the age of 14, he had already prepared his first stuffed animal; a cock bird that is still in his study at the Durham Museum.
He was secretary of the Bermuda governor from 1847 to 1849, traveled to the Sahara desert in the winters of 1855 and 1857, and visited Israel (Ottoman Palestine) in 1858, returning to it in 1863, 1872, and 1897 for further trips where he explored the flora and fauna and became interested in ancient writings. Tristram was one of the first European scholars to arrive in Israel; his writings and collection of stuffed animals and maples constitute an important source of knowledge about the wildlife of Israel in the 19th century. He collected and published the stories of his travels in the book “Journey in the Land of Israel – Diary 1864-1863”.
Henry Baker Tristram: The Father of Zoology of the Land of Israel
In fact, Tristram is considered the “father of zoology in the Land of Israel”. Furthermore, his book “The Flora and Fauna of the Land of Israel” which was first published in 1889; was of great importance in the biological research of the land. He was particularly interested in birds and had towards the end of the 19th century a collection of 20,000 items from all parts of the world; which he sold to the Liverpool Museum. The mammal stuffed animals he collected during his trip to Israel in the 1960s arrived at the South Kensington Museum in London. And some of the plants he collected for the Cambridge Botanical Museum.
Tristram was a devout Christian and treated the Land of Israel with reverence. Several times in his book he tells of the admiration he felt when he stood in front of a holy place, such as Jerusalem. In his travels, he did not stop looking for evidence of what was said in the Scriptures. He served in the mission service but did not work as a missionary in the Land of Israel and treated the Jews living there with respect.
Henry Baker Tristram: Mentioning In His Diary
So in his diary, he tried to find on the sites he visited in the Holy Land; evidence of what is written in the Bible. In other words the highlight of his journey is Jerusalem. Furhtermore, he tells of the discovery of the Tombs of Kings by the delegation of Louis Félicien de Saulcy that year. Inside the coffin was a skeleton of a woman and the sarcophagus had an inscription in Hebrew. The discoverer’s initial hypothesis was that these were the bones of one of King David’s daughters. He visits the Temple Mount and is shown the cave under the Dome of the Rock. He writes: “In it are tunnels that connect him with the Pool of Siloam and the City of David.”