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Ottoman Geological Map: اناطولى علم ارض خريطه سى [Geological Map of Anatolia].


Rare and Important – the first proper geological map of Turkey; a large, separately published work created by the professors Damat Kenan and Ahmet Malik Sayar, issued by the imperial printer in 1920 during the twilight of the Ottoman Empire, forming the foundation for scientific and commercial discovery during the upcoming Turkish Republican Era; printed in Ottoman Turkish text with resplendent original colours.


Colour lithograph (lovely rich original colours, light staining, light wear along the vertical folds), 69 x 91.5 cm (27 x 36 inches).



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This rare, large-format separately published work is the first comprehensive geological map of Turkey.  Based upon the most recent and accurate field reconnaissance, it was compiled by the prominent academics Damat Kenan and Ahmet Malik Sayer, and was published by the Matbaa-ı Amire, the imperial state printer, in 1920, on the eve of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

With text entirely in Ottoman Turkish script, and employing especially rich lithographed colours, the map embraces the western three-quarters of Anatolia (to a point just to the east of Trabzon); all of Cyprus; parts of Northern Syria and Lebanon, to a point south down just past Homs and Tripoli; as well as Eastern Thrace.  The map brilliantly showcases the unusually complex geology of the region which lies along the Alpine-Himalayan tectonic belt, identifying 14 distinct geological zones, each coloured in their own resplendent hue.  Additionally, symbols identify innumerable locations of mineral deposits,

mines and quarries concerning 22 different minerals.  Importantly, it notes the locations of major harbours, as well as delineating the region’s railroads (including the largely complete Baghdad Railway, which was to connect Constantinople with Baghdad), which were vital to bringing minerals to market.

While geological maps of certain Turkish locales, as well as rough geological sketch maps of the greater region already existed, the present work provides the first comprehensive and accurate overview of the geology and mining industry in Anatolia and adjacent regions.  It formed the foundation for the study of geology, as well as a key for resource development in Turkey over the coming years.

Notably, the present map vitally assisted the production of the first statistical-mining atlas of Turkey, معدن احصائياتي اطلاسي [Maden Ihsaiyati Atlasi / Mining Atlas of Turkey] (Ankara, 1924).

Historical Context: The Rise of Turkey out of the Ottoman Ashes

While World War I (1914-8) prefigured the demise of the Ottoman Empire, it is a common Western misconception that Turkey simply ‘collapsed’ and resigned itself to defeat.  On the contrary, while most Turks accepted that the Ottoman Empire, with its vast Arab-majority provinces, was not to survive, they were reenergised by the dream of creating a new nation focused upon Constantinople and Anatolia.  While the victorious Entente Powers (mainly Britain, France and Italy, along with Greece) vowed to dismember Anatolia into zones of foreign occupation, many Turks had other ideas.

Mustafa Kemal Pasha (1881 – 1938), later known as ‘Atatürk’, a former Ottoman army officer and hero of the Gallipoli Campaign, rallied Turkish nationalist forces during the Turkish War of Independence (1919-22).  By 1922, he succeeded in both removing the foreign occupation of Anatolia, Constantinople and Eastern Thrace, while abolishing the Ottoman Empire.  In 1923, he proclaimed the Republic of Turkey, serving as its folding president for the next 15 years, whereby he did much to modernize and strengthen the new nation.  He is rightly remembered as one of the most visionary and successful World leaders of the 20th Century.

The present map, while still made under the outgoing Ottoman regime, was created with the new ‘Kemalist’ can-do spirit in mind.  Turkish intellectuals, such as Kenan and Sayar, knew that the new Turkish state that would arise out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, would need to exploit its significant natural resource wealth to build a modern industrial economy, to both keep the people employed and to support the military.  The present map would have been vitally useful for strategic planning, to identify the locations of mines and quarries, as well as the means of transporting minerals to refineries and markets.

Curiously, the present map omits the easternmost quarter of Anatolia.  This is since the political fate of the region was then disputed, while it was difficult for geologists to survey the area.  In 1920, the France and Britain still claimed zones of influence over the area, while promising to give much of it to an independent Armenian state.  Moreover, the location of the Soviet boundary in the region was still in doubt.  As it would turn out, Atatürk would settle the location of the Soviet-Turkish boundary with Lenin in 1921, while placing almost all Eastern Anatolia under Turkish rule, a reality internationally recognized by 1923.

The authors of the map were the most respected authorities on mining and geology of their era.  Damat Kenan, was a professor of mining at the Darülfünun (later known as the University of Istanbul).  He co-authored the map with his younger colleague, Ahmet Malik Sayar (1892 – 1965), then a lecturer at the Darülfünun, as well as an instructor at the Halkalı School of Agriculture.  The French-educated Sayar, who went on the publish numerous seminal academic studies, was subsequently recognized at the greatest Turkish geologist of the 20th Century.


A Note on Rarity

The present map is very rare; we can only trace one institutional example outside of Turkey (David Rumsey Map Collection).


References: SALT Research Centre (Istanbul): APLAMK001; Şahap Nazmi Coşkunlar, Yeni yayınlar: Aylik bibliyografya dergisi, vols. 10-11 (1965), p. 385. Cf. On Professor Sayar: https://www.jmo.org.tr/resimler/ekler/827d1ec626c891d_ek.pdf

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