Benjamin of Tudela

Born on 1130

Died on 1173

Benjamin of Tudela;

(Hebrew: בִּנְיָמִין מִטּוּדֶלָהpronounced [binjaˈmin mituˈdela]; Arabic: بنيامين التطيلي‎ Binyamin al-Tutayli;‎ Tudela, Kingdom of Navarre, 1130 – Castile, 1173) was a medieval Jewish traveler who visited Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century. His vivid descriptions of western Asia preceded those of Marco Polo by a hundred years. With his broad education and vast knowledge of languages, Benjamin of Tudela is a major figure in medieval geography and Jewish history.

The Travels of Benjamin is an important work not only as a description of the Jewish communities, but also as a reliable source about the geography and ethnography of the Middle Ages. Some modern historians credit Benjamin with giving accurate descriptions of everyday life in the Middle Ages. Originally written in Hebrew, his itinerary was translated into Latin and later translated into most major European languages. It received much attention from Renaissance scholars in the 16th century.

His journeys reveal the concurrent interconnectedness and diversity of Jewish communities during this time period.