Rarstens Niebl'Hr, a German traveller, born at Ludingworth, Lauenburg, March 17, 1733, died at Meldorf, Holstein, April 20, 1815. He studied at Hamburg and Gottingen with a view to becoming a land surveyor, and in 17G0 was appointed mathematician to an expedition sent to Egypt, Arabia, and Syria by Count Bern-storff, minister of Frederick V. of Denmark, for the purpose of illustrating Old Testament geology and natural history. He had the rank of lieutenant of engineers. The expedition sailed in January, 1761, and after touching at Constantinople proceeded to Alexandria, ascended the Nile, examined the pyramids, and went with a caravan to Suez, whence Niebuhr made an excursion to Mount Sinai. In October, 1762, they took ship from Suez to Loheia, find thence travelled by land to Mocha, where Von Haven, the philologist, died in May, 1703; and on their journey to Sana, the capital of Yemen, they lost the naturalist Forskal. They were well received at Sana, but dreading the climate they resolved to return to Mocha, where the whole party were taken sick, but at length obtained passage to Bombay. Baurenfeind, the draughtsman, died on the voyage, and Cramer, the physician, the last of Niebuhr's companions, expired soon after their arrival.
Niebuhr remained 14 months in Bombay, and then turned homeward, visiting Muscat, Bushire, Shiraz, and the ruins of Persepolis, ascending the Euphrates to the ruins of Babylon, and thence going to Bagdad and to Mosul, where he joined a caravan going to Aleppo. He passed over to Cyprus, and returning made a tour to Palestine, went with a caravan across Mount Taurus to Brusa in Asia Minor, arrived at Constantinople in February, 1767, and finally reached Copenhagen in November of the same year. He published the first fruits of the expedition in German under the title of Beschreibung von Arabien (Copenhagen, 1772), the government defraying the expense of the illustrations. In 1774-8 he continued his narrative by publishing his Eeisebeschreibimg ton Arabien und andern iimliegenden Ländern (2 vols., Copenhagen). The third volume was not published till 1837; it bore the same title as the preceding, and contained an account of his homeward journey, through Aleppo, Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Constantinople, with brief notices of Bulgaria, Wallachia, Poland, and Germany. He contributed to a German periodical a paper on the "Interior of Africa," and one on the " Political and Military State of the Turkish Empire." He also edited Forskars papers, Descriptiones Animalium, and Flora Aegyiptiaco-Arabica (4to, 1775). The Danish government rewarded his services with the cross of Dannebroc;. Toward the close of his life he became blind.
His son, the historian, wrote his life (Kiel, 1817).