المجموعة العربية: خريطة خاصة لخرائط الجزيرة العربية من القرن السادس عشر إلى القرن العشرين

The mapping of Arabia in one remarkable assemblage - a specially curated collection of important antique maps to reflect the cartographic history of the Arabian Peninsula from Ptolemy to the 20th century.

 

-- $35,000 --

Date—Mapmaker—Title—(Place of Publication)—Description

*Maps in bold have clickable links

 

1.  1535 - L. Fries Tabula VI Asiae (Lyon): Beautiful Ptolemaic woodcut map of Arabia.

2.  1540 c. - S. Münster Tabula Asiae VI. [Arabia Felix] (Basel): Woodcut Ptolemaic map of Arabia in rare original colors!

3.  1561 - G. Ruscelli Arabia Felice Nuova Tavola (Venice): So-called “modern” map of Arabia, based on Gastaldi.

4.  1574 - G. Ruscelli Tabula Asiae VI (Venice): Map of the Arabia Peninsula on a Ptolemaic projection, with details from the east coast of Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the mouth of the Euphrates, and the southwestern coast of Persia.

5.  1593 - De Jode Secundae partis Asiae, typus (Antwerp): Undoubtedly one of the most spectacular 16th century maps of Arabia - rare.

6.  1596 - Linschoten Deliniantur in hac Tabula, Orae Maritimae Abexiae, Freti Mecani; al Maris Rubri... (Amsterdam): This stunning map of southern Asia is one of the first detailed navigational charts of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

7.  1598 - G. Ruscelli Arabia Felice Nuova Tavola (Venice): Gastaldi-type modern map of Arabia in excellent full color.

8.  1646 - P. Mariette Carte generalle de L'Empire Turc... (Paris): Rare map of the Ottoman with decorative title cartouche.

9.  1654 - N. Sanson Carte des Trois Arabies. (Paris): One of the first large maps focused specifically on the Arabian Peninsula; continued to influence maps of the region throughout the latter part of the 17th century.

10.  1672 - Thevenot Joao Teixeira Cosographo de sua Magestade (Paris): A rare and highly important chart of the Indian Ocean reflecting Portuguese knowledge of the lucrative nautical routes between the Cape of Good Hope, Arabia, and Goa on the west coast of India, the contemporary key link to trading in the Spice Islands.

11.  1715 - De Wit / Renard Occidentalior Tractus Indiarum Orientalium a Promontorio Bonae Spei ad C. Comorin... (Amsterdam): Finely-colored example of De Wit's magnificent sea chart of the Indian Ocean, oriented with east at the top.

12.  1740 - Anonymous Arabie (Paris): Lovely 18th century map of Arabia with large inset of the Great Mosque of Mecca.

13.  1740 - I. Tirion Nieuwe kaart van Arabia... (Amsterdam): An attractive map of the Arabian Peninsula, here called Gelukkig Arabia (Happy Arabia). This map made great advances on other contemporary maps in showing the true extent of Turkish power.

14.  1740 - P. Mortier Carte Particulere de la Mer Rouge... (Amsterdam): Decorative map with original color in outline shows the Red Sea and in-set maps of Mombasa in Kenya and the island Perim in the Bab-el-Mandeb between Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.

15.  1747 - E. Bowen A New & Accurate Map of Turky in Asia, Arabia &c... (London): Lovely Ottoman-themed map of the Arabian peninsula, stretching north to include Asia Minor, west to include the Nile and part of Libya, and east to include part of the Persian Empire and the Caspian Sea.

16.  1751 - D’Anville - Premiere Partie de la Carte d'Asie Contenant la Turquie, l'Arabie, la Perse, l'Inde en deca du Gange et de la Tartarie… (Paris): Extremely important - considered the first truly modern map of Arabia.

17.  1765 - D'Anville Golfe Arabique ou Mer Rouge... (Paris): 18th century French chart of the Red Sea.

18.  1774 - C. Niebuhr Mare Rubrum seu Sinus Arabicus... (Amsterdam): An attractive example of Carsten Niebuhr’s important 1774 map of the Red Sea, the product of the first European scientific expedition to Arabia, an early masterpiece of imperial cartography.

19.  1775 c. - Freres Lotter Empire de la Porte Ottoman... (Augsburg) Extremely rare (found no other recent examples) French edition of Lotter's map of the Ottoman Empire.

20.  1776 - D’Anville Golfe Persique Dresse en 1758 et publie en 76... (Paris): Early Manuscript Notations "gatar" (i.e. Qatar) and "Kouait" - Scarce coastal chart of the Persian Gulf, from Basrars to Cap de Jask and Kursekian.

21.  1814 -  J. Thompson Arabia, Egypt, Abyssinia, Red Sea (Edinburgh): Detailed map focused on the Arabian Peninsula, the Horn of Africa (noted as myrrh and incense country), the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

22.  1847 - C. F. Weiland Arabien (Weimar): A map of Arabia marking the routes across the country and showing Riyadh, with insets of the environs of Mecca, Aden and Sinai.

23.  1865 - Royal Geograpical Society Map of Arabia showing route of W.G. Palgrave Esq. en 1862-3 (London): Map of Palgrave's travels with important mid-19th century political divisions of the Arabia Peninsula.

24.  1920 - Royal Geographic Society Central Arabia, route from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea... (London): Detailed map showing physical features, major towns, surveyed routes, caravan trails, and tribal affiliations, with an inset delineating the author's routes through Arabia, and routes surveyed 1917-18.

25.  1925 - Royal Geographic Society The Deserts of Jafura and Jabrin. (London): Excellent map showing Cheesman's travels in Eastern Nedj, between the 'Oqair and Jabrin oasis.

 

Related video:

A short discussion of the mapping of Arabia in European maps, from the Ptolemaic tradition to the Royal Danish Expedition of the 1760s.

Historical Background

The Arabian Peninsula covers more than 1 million square miles (2.6 million square meters) and is comprised of the modern states of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is one of the largest regions in the world with no navigable rivers, a circumstance that made exploring and mapping its interior a difficult endeavor. The first map of the Arabian peninsula to be printed in Europe was in the 1477 edition of Ptolemy. Tibbetts notes that, like other early Greeks, Ptolemy exaggerated the length of Eurasia to the east. The distance between the Red Sea and Persia was too big and thus Arabia was stretched to fill the gap, especially because Ptolemy knew the entrance to the Red Sea was very narrow; thus he had to make the shape fit.

By Ptolemy’s time, Greek sailors had sailed around the Arabian coast and were familiar with port towns. However, its interior remained largely unmapped until the 20th century. The northern part of the peninsula tended to be mapped more accurately because it was closer to populated lands and more frequently traveled, but the interior of Ptolemaic maps are almost completely fanciful, including the mountain ranges, river systems, and lakes. The cartographic errors are probably a mix of fanciful stories and the desire to fill open space on maps - a trend common in pre-18th century cartography.

The foundation in the second half of the 17th century of the French Academie Royale des Sciences and the British Royal Society, as well as similar institutions in other capitals of Europe, led to the encouragement of travel and astronomical sciences and an increase in the accuracy of maps. The first cartographer of this new age was Guillaume De l’Isle, and with his maps there comes a new step in the cartographic representation of Arabia.

De l’Isle was the model for succeeding cartographers, including one of the most important of the 18th century, Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville. D'Anville's 1751 map of Asia by showed the West how much about the interior of the Arabian Peninsula was unknown. To ameliorate this lack of information, the Royal Danish Arabia Expedition of 1761-7 was launched, the first European scientific mission to Arabia. The sole survivor was German mathematician Carsten Niebuhr, who employed modern marine surveying techniques to produce the most accurate chart yet seen of the Red Sea. This chart was issued in Niebuhr's 1774 book, published in Amsterdam after his return as the sole survivor of the expedition, Beschryving van Arabie.

The significant cartographic achievements of the 18th century laid the foundation for further scientific mapping expeditions in the 19th and 20th centuries, most notably by the British Royal Geographic Society.

 

References

G.Tibbetts. Arabia in Early Maps: A Bibliography of Maps Covering the Peninsula of Arabia Printed in Western Europe from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1751. Oleander Press, 1978.

K. al-Ankary. The Arabian Peninsula in Old European Maps. From the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Institut du Monde Arabe, 2001.