Much of the data collected for this project derives from the extensive travel narratives penned by Dutch, German, and English-speaking doctors and naturalists who traveled throughout Russia's southern regions describing the landscape and natural resources they found there. 

The volumes they ultimately produced were often richly illustrated and presented the rest of the world with a view of Russia's southern regions as full of economic promise. 




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The single most important travel narrative, however, for this project so far has been Samuel Gottlieb Gmelin's Reise durch Russland zur Untersuchung der drey Natur-Reiche, 4 vols. (1770 - 1774). 

From 1766 to his death in 1774 Gmelin traveled extensively along the Don and the Volga Rivers, along the coasts of the Caspian Sea and deep into the Caucasus at the behest of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, studying the “three realms of nature.”

Gmelin was taken as a hostage by Usmey Khan during these travels and died in captivity at the age of 29.