Thursday, August 21, 2014

First Ottoman Map of America

This is apparently the first Ottoman map of the newly formed USA, printed in 1803. It turned up in the collection of the Osher Map Library in Portland ME (see the close up of Ingiltere Jadid below). A zoommable version with a little more information is available here. Mehr_Bluebeard, at the always entertaining Map Porn, took the trouble of going through and offering some transcriptions: Manitoba is written as جنوب ویلز جدید meaning "New South Wales." Scattered names west of the States are: Algonquin, Abitibi, Ottawas, Chippawa, Western Sioux, Eastern Sioux, Qara panlis (Blackfoot), Aq panlis(Whitefoot), Illinois, Missouries, Chickasaw, Kentucky, Tennessee, etc. Florida is "Eastern Florida" and Louisiana state is "Western Florida" However, the entire area west of Mississippi river is called Louisiana The States, from top: New England, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia. Approximately where Texas is, it reads: "The land of Mexico."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Germans Are Coming Part II

Afternoon Map has always been alert to the danger posed by German militarism. We warned of it in one of our first posts, and continue to think tapping Angela Merkel's phone is an eminently sensible precaution. "Once a German, always a German," we like to say. So we were delighted when Beth Mercurio sent us this map, which she found in her grandfather's copy of Hermann Rauschning's 1939 "The Revolution of Nihilism: Warning to the West." Beth explained: "I'd vaguely heard of [Rausching's] book "Conversations with Hitler" and how historians were concerned it was bogus, but I hadn't seen his writing anywhere else. [Based on some superficial research, which is all I have time for with the semester beginning, it seems like neo-Nazi historians definitely think Rausching's work is fake, but it's a little unclear what real historians think. If anyone knows more let us know - ed] This book was apparently the one before Conversations with Hitler, detailing the rise of Nazi ideology and the author's thoughts on how it would eventually implode (he was a former leader within the party and later broke away/left Germany in the late 1930s)."

I don't have much more to add to add, except that more maps should include a "Doubtful" category.  And while I think our collective interest in the way Mercator projections exaggerate the size of Greenland is a little silly, it certainly does make this map seem more ominous. The Italians, of course, are still scheming to get Turkey, while America doesn't make out that badly either.

Finally, a few nice World War One posters to remind everyone just what the Germans are capable of. "Remember Belgium" might not be the catchiest propaganda slogan, but the picture is compelling. In all seriousness, though, while people often lament the fact that Americans weren't quick enough to believe reports of Nazi atrocities during World War Two or take action to in response to evidence of concentration camps, it's worth remembering that the American public had become cynical after all the exaggerated anti-German propaganda they had been subjected to during the previous war. It's like the famous story of the boy who cried German.  Americans, having been repeatedly told that the WWI-era Germans were basically behaving like Nazis only to discover that maybe they hadn't been that much worse than the British and French, became overly skeptical and hesitant to believe it when, in the next war, the Germans actually were Nazis.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Every Day Eating in the Eastern Mediterranean

Today we have a version of our Ottoman Food Map that appeared in the Guerrilla Cartography project Food: An Atlas with the help of actual cartographer Ryan Cooper. And if that weren't enough, there's also a podcast about it. I think it's mostly me talking about octopus while Chris Gratien tries not to laugh.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ottoman Decline in its Mediterranean Context

The Ottoman Empire has been portrayed by Turkish and European scholars alike as a state doomed to failure in the modern age by its anachronistic commitment to an obscurantist Islamic faith. When sweeping studies of global history like Paul Kennedy's or David Landes's present the Ottomans as the last and most promising of history’s great Islamic or Middle Eastern empires, this religious or civilizational explanation for its demise makes sense. But consider what the Ottoman Empire’s political and economic trajectory looks like when it is viewed as one of several Mediterranean empires. This map depicts political entities grouped as “Western,” “Eastern” or “Mediterranean.” When Spain, Italy, and what is now Turkey are viewed as a group separated from both Europe and the Middle East, for example, the similarities between them become striking. All were at the height of their wealth and power when the Mediterranean was at the center of the world. By the 19th century, the Ottoman sultan was the sick man of Europe, but it wasn’t as if Spain or Italy were industrial powerhouses. Italy, driven by its northern industrial base, took off a little more quickly than the other two, but all three remained poor well into the 20th century. After finally escaping fascism, Spain got a boost by joining the European Union in the 1970s. Turkey, which began to come into its own as an industrial and export hub in the 1990s, is now a member of the Group of 20 (G20) largest economies, and the country’s problems of late have been more political than economic or religious.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

1,300 Years of Sunni-Shiite Conflict According to US Pundits

Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting one another since the seventh century, we’ve been told, and now the Middle East could be on the verge of a decades-long religious war like the one that tore Protestant and Catholic Europe apart in the 1600s. But we seldom actually hear examples of specific Sunni-Shiite conflicts from the past 1,300 years. This GIF shows every instance of Sunni-Shiite violence, from the Battle of Karbala in 680 and the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, that I’ve seen specifically mentioned in a major U.S. media outlet over the past few years. This is not to say there aren’t other examples, only that there are a lot fewer than you might expect for a conflict supposedly going strong for thirteen centuries. The series of Ottoman-Safavid wars in the 16th century, to name the most prominent conflict depicted here, were, despite their political origins, certainly couched in religious terms, and led to some undeniable brutality. But a major difference between the Middle East today and Europe on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War is that Sunnis and Shiites currently have a millennium more of relatively peaceful coexistence under their belts than Protestants and Catholics ever did. This also doesn’t mean that sectarian conflict can’t arise, especially when provoked by political instability and violent demagoguery, but from a historical perspective it is hardly inevitable. Of all the things people in the Middle East have fought over during the past 13 centuries, Sunni and Shiite identities have seldom been chief among them.

Some Spinoffs

These are two compilations of images that turned up when I was looking for maps and that I then felt strangely compelled to compile in tumblr form. The trains in towns are all courtesy of an amazing collection of birds' eye views of American cities from the turn of the century featured on Big Map Blog. The Bergen County Beards come from a collection of late 19th century local histories of random American counties digitized by the British Library. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mahdis, Messiahs, Christs

Wikipedia's love of listing obscure things in an unbelievably earnest way provided the content for this map, showing an assortment of people who claimed to be either the Mahdi, the Jewish Messiah or the Second Coming of Christ over the last few millennia. It's obviously a slightly arbitrary list, with Messiahs getting the best coverage, and Christian pretenders strangely absent between the 1st and 19th centuries. Still, there's a nice geography to where these people appear (you have to move the map a bit to see North America, but you'll certainly find a lot there), and a lot of them have a great esoteric, Borgesian quality too. Also, I like the fact Wikipedia lists Jesus at the top of the list of Jewish Messiah Claimants, but not on their list of People Who Have Claimed to be Jesus.

The image at left is from a German work called the Death of Simon Magus. Simon Magus, or Simon the Magician was an early gnostic who not only appears in the Acts of the Apostles but also  in today's map.