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Ottoman Explorations of the Nile

Evliya Çelebi’s ‘Matchless Pearl These Reports of the Nile’ map and his accounts of the Nile and the Horn of Africa in The Book of Travels

Nuran Tezcan, Michael Sheridan

Published by Gingko Library

£40.00 / $51.68 / €47.48
($/€ approx)

Hardback, 442 pages, published 2018, colour folded map

‘For all that the Ottomans barely rank in the annals of exploration, one name stands out. In this splendid volume, Evliya Çelebi’s richly-annotated Nile map is published in full for the first time, alongside his extensive account of his pioneering journeys in the region in 1672. Expertly translated so as to preserve Evliya’s humorous style and penchant for drama, this is a substantial contribution to our appreciation of an unsung adventurer.’
Caroline Finkel, author of The Evliya Çelebi Way
Book Description

The most ambitious effort, before the time of Napoleon, to explore and map out the Nile was undertaken by the Ottomans, as attested by two monumental documents: an elaborate map, with 450 rubrics; and a lengthy travel account. Both were achieved at about the same time – c. 1685 – and both apparently by the same man. Evliya Çelebi’s account of his Nile journeys, in Volume 10 of The Book of Travels (Seyahatname), has been known to the scholarly world since 1938. The map, in the Vatican Library, has been known to the scholarly world since 1949. A first edition of it was published in 2011. The authors of that edition, Robert Dankoff and Nuran Tezcan, demonstrated in detail that the map should be attributed to Evliya Çelebi. The edition of the map included here (which, considered as a text, is extraordinarily challenging philologically) incorporates many new readings, bringing it a step closer to a definitive edition. This volume also contains Evliya’s six journeys, his travels in Egypt and Sudan and along the Red Sea coast, as well as problems regarding dates and authenticity of the journeys. The relation of the map and The Book of Travels is analysed, including similarities and correspondences in content, language, and style, along with discrepancies between the two documents and how to account for them.

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