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Cyprus in the Cosmography (Cihannüma) of the Ottoman Geographer Kâtib Celebî

Abstract

It can be argued that Ottoman cartography begins with Pîrî Reis, an Ottoman admiral specializing in the preparation of portolans of the Mediterranean. In his work entitled Kitâb-ı Bahrîye (Book of the Seas) which was presented to Sultan Selim I (1512-1560) in 1517, Pîrî Reis included a copy of the world map prepared by Christopher Columbus in 1498. Kâtib Çelebî (1609-1657) held a post in the Ottoman army, as well as in the financial services of the empire. He used to write down his impressions from the places he visited during the military campaigns he participated in, and later on included them in his works. He was aware of the inextricable relationship between cartography and geography, and believed that the progress made by the Ottomans in the field of cartography was not satisfactory. Realizing this inadequacy he decided to compile a "geography of the world" using the European sources of his time and thus became one of the first writers to enrich the Ottoman geography writing with Western works. By comparing the works of the East and the West, he identified the shortcomings of the first and, in the aim of overcoming them he decided to compose Cihannüma (Cosmography), which is considered as one of the most important works of his. The part of the text in Cihannüma related to Cyprus begins with a reference to the exact location and a description of some physical characteristics of the island. There are also references to the administrative divisions, the products, the monuments and other places that the writer considered to be noteworthy, as well as a brief history of the island.

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