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GEOLOGICAL MAP – BOSNIA & HERCEGOVINA / DALMATIA: Geologische Ubersichtskarte von Bosnien-Hercegovina: Erster Entwurf / K.K. Geologische Reichsanstalt; nach den Sommer 1879 unter Mitwirkung des Prof. Dr. G. Pilar ausgeführten Recognoscirungsreisen verfass



A fine example of the first scientific geological map of Bosnia & Herzegovina, published by Austrian Imperial and Royal Geological Institute, shortly after Austria-Hungary conquered the region from the Ottomans.  

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This excellent map showcases the first scientific geological survey of Bosnia & Herzegovina, the result of stellar geological surveys conducted in the summer of 1879 on the orders of the Austrian Imperial and Royal Geological Institute (K. K. Geologische Reichsanstalt) by a trio of geologists, Johann August Edmund Mojsisovics von Mojsvár, Emil Ernst August Tietze and Alexander Bittner.  The project was undertaken in the immediate wake of the region’s conquest by Austria-Hungary from the Ottoman Empire, and represents one of last major regions of Europe to be geologically surveyed in a scientific manner and, indeed, one of the most technically challenging. 


The present map embraces all of Bosnia & Herzegovina, plus a large part of Dalmatia, based on an accurate topographical template, and features 20 different brightly coloured rock types and stratigraphic zones, which are identified in the ‘Farben Eklärung’, in the lower right.  The geological mapping is exceptionally accurate and precise, an especially impressive feat given the exceptionally rugged and complex nature of the country.


To be clear, the present map is of the second edition of the map.  The first edition of the map was published within Mojsisovics, Tietze & Bittner’s pioneering book on the geology of Bosnia & Herzegovina, Grundlinien der Geologie von Bosnien-Hercegovinia. Erlauterungen zur Geologischen Uebersichtskarte dieser Lander (Vienna, 1880).  The present second issue of he map is identical to the first, save that it bears the date ‘1881’ below the title, instead of 1880.  It is also the first separately issued edition of the map.


The Pioneering 1879 Geological Survey of Bosnia & Herzegovina


Bosnia & Herzegovina is an exceptionally rugged land that for hundreds of years, until the Austro-Ottoman War of 1877-8, was a possession of the Ottoman Empire.  During the 19th Century, the Ottoman Empire was in a state of gradual decay, and sponsoring geological surveys was simply not a priority.  Consequently, Bosnia & Herzegovina was one of the last major regions of Europe to be geologically surveyed in a scientific fashion.


Circumstances changed upon the Austro-Hungarian conquest of Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1878.  The impetus for the geological mapping of the region came from Franz Ritter von Hauer’s mega-project to geologically map all of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to uniformly high scientific standards, under the auspices of the K.K. Geologische Reichsanstalt (Austrian Imperial and Royal Geological Institute).  Hauer had competed the first edition of his geological map of the Empire as it then existed, Geologische Übersichts-Karte Österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie (12 sheets, first issued 1867–71).  However, the addition of new territories, such as Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, to the imperial realm necessitated commensurate major expansions to the project. 


In the summer of 1879, under Hauer’s sponsorship, an expert mission led by three geologists, Johann Mojsisovics von Mojsvár, Emil Tietze and Alexander Bittner, was charged with conducting the first scientific geological survey of Bosnia & Herzegovina.  Bitter was the first out in the field, tackling the especially challenging south-eastern part of Bosnia and all of Herzegovina.  Mojsisovics and Tietze divided the rest of Bosnia between them.  The three teams worked with exceptional speed, without compromising quality, and their masterful survey was completed by the autumn of 1879.


The following year the trio published a short, but insightful, treatise on their survey, Grundlinien der Geologie von Bosnien-Hercegovinia. Erlauterungen zur Geologischen Uebersichtskarte dieser Lander (Vienna, 1880), which included the first edition of the map.  The present separately issued edition appeared the following year.  The mapping from the Bosnia & Herzegovina survey was first incorporated into Hauer’s Geologische Übersichts-Karte in its 1884 edition.


The Geologists in Focus

Johann August Georg Edmund Mojsisovics von Mojsvar (1839 – 1907) was one of the most important geologists and paleontologists working in Central and Southern Europe during the 19th Century.   He was born in Vienna, the son of the eminent surgeon Georg Mojsisovics von Mojsvar (1799 – 1860).  While Mojsisovics was trained to become a lawyer, earning his Ph.D. in law in 1864, his true passion was geology and paleontology.  He entered the service of the K.K. Geologische Reichsanstalt in 1867, and rapidly rose to become the institute’s chief geologist by 1870.  His work on the cephalopods of the Triassic Period in the Alps is considered be seminal to the subject, even to this day.  His geological surveys of parts of Tyrol and Carinthia were praised as masterful.  However, his surveys in Bosnia & Herzegovina were perhaps his most impressive, winning him the respect of geologists worldwide.

Emil Ernst August Tietze (1845 – 1931), originally haled from Silesia, and received his education at the universities of Breslau and Tübingen.  He married Franz Ritter von Hauer’s daughter, Rosa, and joined his father-in-law’s Geological Survey of Austria-Hungary in 1870.  Tietze took a sabbatical to geologically map the Elburz Mountains of Persia, winning him global praise.  Closer to home, his work on karst topography is considered to be especially significant.  He became director of the survey in 1902, and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1918.

Alexander Bittner (1850 – 1902) was known as the “Bosnia geologist” due to his indefatigable work on the Bosnia & Herzegovina survey.  After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1873, he conducted geological research in Greece and Italy, of which his study of the 1873 Belluno earthquake won special attention.  Bittner joined the K.K. Geologische Reichsanstalt in 1877, and soon after joined the Bosnia & Herzegovina survey.  While the most junior member of the project’s leadership, Bittner was the most visible of its principals, and this did much to advance his career.  His subsequent work on the Alpine Triassic Period is held in particular regard.  Bittner became the chief geologist of the Reichsanstalt in 1897.

The present map rarely appears on the market, and the present offering is an especially fine example, separately issued in its original covers.

References: OCLC: 37835980.

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