First published in 1881, East of the Jordan recounts the results of an archaeological expedition organised by the American Palestine Exploration Society in 1875-7.
In two years the expedition members covered much of the region between Lake Tiberias (sea of Galilee) and the Dead Sea, in the upper and lower Jordan Valley. Along with meticulous descriptions of the major towns and sites of archaeological interest, the author also records details of the everyday lives of the inhabitants. These seemingly incidental occurrences, combined with the exquisite illustrations, endow the work with a quality of lasting interest, and great historical value.
Selah Merrill (1837-1909), leader of the expedition, was an American Congregational clergyman who combined a love of travel with authorship of a number of works on the Middle East. He later became American Consul at Jerusalem.