Turkey Historical Atlas Studies
Keywords: Atlas, historical atlas, Türkiye, history of Türkiye, historical geography, visualization
Even though Turkish/Ottoman cartography studies go back early in history, the oldest samples that have reached today belong to the early 15th century. When the Turkish/Ottoman geography and cartography tradition is examined, it is observed that one page maps had been the most common way before the atlas tradition, just like the rest of the world. Those maps prepared for one single occasion were brought together in the course of time and in this way the form of 'atlas' had come in sight. Even though one might not cali it an atlas by today's standards, because of several maps it includes, 'Kitab-ı Bahriyye' of Piri Reis is regarded the first atlas in the history of Turkish cartography. His work is a 'geographical atlas'; not only his atlas but the ones prepared after it up until the first historical atlas prepared in the early 20th century were all geographical atlases. Among those who prepared such atlases similar to that of Piri Reis are Matrakçı Nasuh, Ali Macar Reis, Katip Çelebi, Ebubekir Behram and İbrahim Müteferrika. As it is well-known, the Tanzimat era, started in 1839, is a modernization/westernization process that encompassed almost every aspect of life in Ottoman history. This modernization process has also included Ottoman science/educational system. Thus, in this era, new educational institutes, new systems, course books and auxiliary tools came into existence and started to being used commonly. In this context, connected to the changes in geography and cartography, one of the first changes took place in history courses is the history atlas prepared by Mehmed Eşref, in 1910. The tradition of forming history atlases started with Mehmed Eşref was followed by a number of different endeavors such as the efforts of Abdülkerim Nadir in 1915, formation of 'Türk Tarihinin Anahatları' by a commission in 1931 and F. R. Unat 1951. Especially after the 1980s, with the tradition of atlas translations, atlas preparations gained a new momentum and have reached its present day position. Starting with the first geography atlases, giving a brief historical background, the emergence and development of the first history atlases in Turkey will be examined in this study. While the development will be compared with the historical atlases around the globe as much as possible, the reasons for the delay of such studies in Turkey, the reason for disconnection of the studies from their counterparts in the world, and the strive for integration will also be scrutinized.