Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First (Copied) Ottoman Map of America

So I've already had to disappoint a few people who've written in about our Ottoman map of America by telling them that while this is, of course, an "Ottoman perspective" on the US, that has it's limits. The Ottomans weren't sending their own surveyors over, and this map was most likely based almost entirely on British sources. As the original draft of our Slate article on the map explained, in a paragraph that was unfortunately cut:

Information for early Ottoman maps of the new world was generally taken from the works of European cartographers, while by the later 19th century a number of Ottoman atlases were often purchased directly from British map-makers like George Philip & sons in London, who produced maps specifically for the Ottoman market.
 But I still had no idea just how closely the maker of this map had borrowed from European works until Juan Blanco was kind enough to write in and point me to the original from which Mahmoud Raif Efendi seems to have quite clearly worked. Above is British cartographer William Faden's 1796 map of the United States. What's fascinating is that almost all the text on the Ottoman version seems to be a direct translation of Faden's with the exception of the name of the United States of America. Fadden, of course, labels it the United States, while the Ottoman version calls it the Republic of the English People, or İngliz Cumhurunun Ülkesi.

Seeing how much the Ottoman cartographer copied directly from the British original makes those few points of departure all the more interesting. If anyone has any thoughts on what he did with Florida or what happened to the prominently marked "Western Territory" let us know.