history/map nerds, I need your help
April 30, 2021 10:24 AM   Subscribe

I need a READABLE, reasonably ACCURATE map of the Ottoman Empire, ideally with the 17th century borders, but can be flexible on that. A bigger deal is to have it be readable like a modern map. Has to include all the regions that were Ottoman in the 17th century.

I bought this item and it is woefully insufficient: damn near impossible to read and at least one of the most important sites I need to see isn't even on it (Smyrna/Izmir.)

Perhaps you are a history/map nerd who knows where to find a more readable item?

I guess I could, if necessary, try to find a modern regional map and try to trace the border outline of the 17th century empire onto it somehow.

The map would ideally be about 16x20 inches. Could go a bit larger. No smaller.
posted by fingersandtoes to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This might work, it's an australian seller, but US orders are printed and shipped from US. Could find UK based stores that carry it, but not US ones.
posted by multivalent at 11:33 AM on April 30, 2021

Best answer: David Rumsey sells prints of their scans. This James Wyld map is at least a century too late, but looks like it was built from older information.

Note that there a couple of years listed in the Rumsey collection which claim to have hundreds of Ottoman empire maps, but I think it's a mis-filing
posted by scruss at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2021

Best answer: When you say "17th century," do you mean the areas under Ottoman rule at its greatest extent, c. 1680-1700? There were some late 16th and 17th century conquests, so if you don't mean that, it would help to specify what you do have in mind.

There are a few ways to go about this, from worst to best (depending on your specific needs)

Worst: Get a modern map and trace the old boundaries. This will be legible but will include any features that have been added since 1700—new settlements, dams and their associated reservoirs/artificial lakes (e.g. Lake Nasser), changing river courses and coastlines, desertified areas, etc.

Better: A contemporary map, c. 1700 or so. This will have contemporary features, and with the development of better techniques for determining longitudes in the 17th century, it will likely be far more accurate than an earlier map. The drawbacks, though, include the fact that 17th-century cartographers didn't use all the conventions that make a map useful for a modern reader. They are great historical sources but not so useful as a reference for many purposes.

If that's what you want, you can look at a decent resolution version of the Moll map linked by multivalent that's been digitized by Harvard University Library. If printed at 100 dpi it would be about the size you want. The one at OldmapsShop on Etsy, though, appears to be printed from a much higher resolution scan of the original.

Best: A historical map, i.e., a modern map that has been designed with modern base cartography and features and boundaries that represent the way things were in the past. My favorite for modern world history is the Grosser historischer Weltatlas published by the Bayrischer Schulbuchverlag, but that has the disadvantage (for some) of being in German, and it's also out of print as far as i can tell. I know it has a historical map of the Ottoman Empire, but my copy is in my office and I've been working from home this year.

There were some decent historical atlases published in the late 19th and early 20th century that are now out of copyright. The Perry-Castañeda Map Library at UT Austin was one of the early digital collections of them. Here, for instance, is one from Shepherd's historical atlas of 1923. It's not as detailed as the Moll map but has more accurate representation of landforms.

I don't have time to write any more, but I suspect with the aid of a good reference librarian you could find a high quality public domain historical map of the empire.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:24 PM on April 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: any 17th century date is fine for my purposes. The Shepherd's is nice and readable, it's just that the etsy seller I found who sells it wants $60 for the 16x20, and it's more than I would ideally like to pay.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:15 PM on April 30, 2021

Response by poster: if it's out of copyright could I get it printed at any poster printing service?
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:24 PM on April 30, 2021

Best answer: If the image is out of copyright, you can do whatever you want with it, including having a print made by any service you wish. Even if it's in copyright, there are fair use exceptions that might apply, and in any case, there are very few copyright holders who are going to pursue an individual who makes one copy for personal use, because the cost of pursuing legal action would be far greater than any damages they could prove. The only copyright holders who really care about individual violations are those like Disney who are worried that if they permit individuals to violate copyright, that might establish a precedent for their work entering public domain before the statutory limit.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:32 PM on April 30, 2021

(Addendum: while I've read a lot about copyright law, and I have discussed the subject with lawyers, I am not a lawyer, and my previous comment is not legal advice.)
posted by brianogilvie at 7:35 PM on April 30, 2021

Response by poster: I meant more as a practical matter - I know some printers won't print stuff they think is copyrighted. I am testing this right now with Staples poster service and will update tomorrow to see if it worked out ok.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:41 PM on April 30, 2021

Response by poster: delighted to report that Staples produced a perfectly usable poster print of the image brianogilvie provided. At no point was there any ownership issue. (I once tried to have a mug printed with an image my kid drew, which was a parody version of a local sport team's logo, and at least one service refused to do it, which was why I was worried.) It was all fine.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:38 PM on May 2, 2021

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