The Scottish twin sisters Agnes Lewis (1843-1926) and Margaret Gibson (1843-1920), heiresses of an extremely wealthy man, between them learned numerous languages, including Modern Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian and Syriac, and became pioneering biblical scholars and explorers at a time when women rarely ventured to foreign lands. Their initial desire to travel to the Holy Land was encouraged by their Presbyterian minister. Setting out with their former teacher, Grace Blyth, in 1868, they travelled across Europe to Greece, Turkey, Egypt and Palestine. In this 1870 account, Lewis vividly describes the discomfort of long-distance travel, especially for women, and their encounters with the people they met on the way. At Constantinople they were struck by the beauty of Hagia Sophia, and saw whirling dervishes. They had some difficulties with their guide in Egypt, but this did not deter them, and they continued on to Palestine before returning to Europe.