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(12th century). Merchant and traveler, often called the “Jewish Marco Polo.” He started out from Saragossa, Spain, in 1160 and spent 13 years traveling around the then-known world. He kept a lively diary in Hebrew, recording detailed descriptions of Jewish life in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The first English translation in 1840 of his journeys is highly esteemed for the historical and geographical light it sheds on the far away and little known Orient of that time. Benjamin’s vivid descriptions are particularly valuable because they include information on several peoples that disappeared completely once conquered by the Tatars.

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