The Representation of Cyprus in the Work of Olfert Dapper (1688): Images of the Mediterranean in the Travel Literature of the Late Dutch Golden Age

Maria-Tsampika Lampitsi - PhD candidate, Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, University of Cyprus



In 1687 the Dutch writer Olfert Dapper (1636- 1689) wrote a travel text with the basic title Naukeurige beschryving der eilanden, in de Archipel der Middelantsche Zee [Precise description of the islands in the Archipelago of the Mediterranean Sea]. Most of the text, drafted in Dutch and published in Amsterdam in 1688, relates to the description of Cyprus.

Dapper belongs to a category of writers who never actually travelled to the places about which they wrote. This in itself leads to questions about the typological classification of the text. It moreover directs our attention to the text’s audience – in this case, the Dutch society of the late 17th century, a period that marked the end of the Dutch Golden Age. It could be argued that the structure and content of Dapper’s text reflect interpretations and conceptions of Cyprus by Dutch society during an important era of transition. Furthermore, the author’s choice to include Cyprus within a geographical hierarchy is likely indicative of political, economic and other incentives that defined cultural representations in the absence of alternative information.



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