An Ottoman Manuscript Chart of the Mediterranean from the 17th-18th Century as an Intersection of Theoretical and Practical Geographical Knowledge

Beatrice Gruendler - Professor, Department of Semitic and Arabic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin



Geographic writing in Islamic civilisation spans the entire spectrum from fantastic accounts of mirabilia in foreign lands via administrative manuals on roadways and realms to sober mathematical cartography. In terms of method, such writing ranges from the theoretical treatise to the practical navigation manual. Portolan charts, while at times displaying artistic finesse, are often located on the practical side, joining cartographic precision to usability. Therefore their (at times selective) labelling of navigational zones and stretches of coastline allows us to draw conclusions on seafaring during the period of their use.

The present contribution will draw a comparison between the Sylvia Ioannou Foundation’s anonymous Ottoman sea chart from the 17th-18th century and a privately owned similar sea chart from the late 16th or early 17th century in terms of their highlighting strategically relevant areas of the Mediterranean.



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