Three Years in the Libyan Desert is a journal of an expedition led by the celebrated German archaeologist, Kaufman, to explore the major Christian sites in the region of Cyrenaica in 1905.
Faced with many difficulties, not the least being the dangers to Europeans travelling in an Islamic country, the party nonetheless make many important finds including the excavation of the site dedicated to the fourth century Christian martyr, Saint Menas. Lying close to Mareotis Lake (Buhrayat Mayut) in the Nile Delta, this shrine became a principal centre of pilgrimage until the Arab invasions of the seventh century. Here, with typical Teutonic thoroughness, the expedition members soon have the local tribesmen methodically clearing the site, and a whole complex of church, monastery, baths and other buildings are brought to light.
However, beyond the archaeological work, the author allows his narrative to embrace many scenes of everyday life among the desert dwellers. These descriptions, coupled with the numerous photographs, lend the work, here republished in facsimile of the first edition, a lasting fascination.