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Number: 3799
Continent: Africa
Region: North
Place Names: Egypt, Suez, Sinai
Year of Origin: 1869
Title: [Suveys bogazi ve etraflarinde harita-si / Map of the Suez Canal and its Surroundings]
Language: Arabic
Publish Origin: Paris
Height: 83.0
Width: 58.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Large
Color Type: Full Color
Images of this map are not yet available.
Cartographer: Erhard Schieble
Publisher: Monrocq
Other Contributors: M. Ferdinand de Lesseps
Northernmost Latitude: 31.65
Southernmost Latitude: 29.8
Westernmost Longitude: 31.0
Easternmost Longitude: 33.0
Measurement Notes: modern estimates
Notes: [Source Dasa Pahor] very rare, This map is not in the Afriterra Collection; Erhard SCHIEBLE (1821 - 1880), Cartographer. / E. LANEE, Editor.S [Suveys bogazi ve etraflarinde harita-si / Map of the Suez Canal and its Surroundings] Paris: Imprimee chez Monrocq, [1869]. Lithograph in colour, folding into original orange card covers printed in gilt;, 83 x 58 cm (32.5 x 23 inches). An exceedingly rare and highly decorative map of the Suez Canal printed entirely in Ottoman Turkish text, and designed in Paris by the cartographer Erhard Schieble and issued by the publisher Monrocq to celebrate the inauguration of the world-changing transport nexus in 1869; likely made to serve as a diplomatic gift for Ottoman luminaries. This highly attractive map was issued in 1869 to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal, the transport nexus that connected the Eastern and Western worlds and completely transformed geopolitics and commerce. The map, which is exceedingly rare, seems to have been issued as diplomatic gift for the many Ottoman officials and business figures who had a stake in the canal?s future. The map covers the eastern half of the Nile Delta and extends east to the margins of the Sinai Peninsula, with the route of the Suez Canal running down the right side, and with Cairo in the far lower left. The map employs the resplendent manner of colour lithography favoured in France at the time (and which would have appealed to Ottoman tastes), with the Nile lowlands appearing in a rich green hue, the deserts in a warm tan colour, while the seas are azure. Every city, town and village is denoted by bright orange symbols, while all the railways are delineated. The Suez Canal is shown bordered by bright orange embankments, while the new, custom built cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez are marked. An inset, bottom centre, features a world map showcasing the canal?s strategically vital location, as the ultimate nexus for world trade. The map is bordered by a magnificent pageant of Egyptian motifs, including the Pyramids of Giza, obelisks, sphinxes, and the Port of Alexandria. Importantly, in a tribute to the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish star and crescent tops the composition. That the map is printed in Ottoman Turkish text is extraordinary, it is the only large separately issued map of the Suez Canal printed in that language of which we are aware. The realization of the Suez Canal, built by French interests, and subsequently coming under majority British control, was a bittersweet development for the Ottoman Empire. In 1869, Egypt was a de jure part of the empire, although since the Napoleonic Wars it had functioned as a de facto independent state. Consequently, while the canal was built on what was legally Ottoman territory, and while Sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861-76) gave his pro forma consent to the project (albeit in 1866, when it was nearly completed!), the Sublime Porte had virtually no control, or even influence, over the canal. This reality was, at least behind the scenes, a blow to Ottoman pride. While the completion of the canal provided benefits to the Ottomans, due to the dramatic growth and efficiency in maritime trade, while allowing the Ottoman military to more easily reach its Red Sea territories (Hejaz, Asir and North Yemen), the geopolitical risks were seen by the Sublime Porte to outweigh the gains. The canal suddenly made the Red Sea, previously dominated by the Ottomans, into one of the world?s busiest global transport corridors, so dramatically heightening European powers? interest in the region. Indeed, in the immediate wake of the canal?s completion, Britain, France and Italy all permanently established colonial bases along the Red Sea coasts, in places that the Ottomans considered to be within their privileged zone of influence. The Suez Canal also motivated Britain to de facto annex Egypt in 1882, effectively ending the Ottomans? political role in the country. Thus, the gifting of the present map to an Ottoman official or business magnate would have been publicly an honour, although privately it might sting a bit! The mapmaker Erhard Schieble (1821 ? 1880) was born in Germany but moved to Paris as young man. He was a pioneer of many lithographic printing techniques for maps and was known for being an unusually gifted draftsman. Founding his own firm for cartographic drafting, he worked with several leading Paris publishers, and gained many important government commissions. He had links the circle of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the builder of the Suez Canal, and was involved in mapping the project from an early state. He drafted one of the earliest and most famous maps of the projected canal?s future route, Linant de Bellefonds? Carte de l?Isthme de Suez : pour servir a l?Intelligence du memoire et de l?avantprojet relatifs a la communication a etablir entre la mer Rouge et la Mediterranee, par le percement direct de l?Isthme au moyen d?un Canal maritime de Suez a Peeluse (Paris: Chez Longuet, 1855). He was this the natural choice to design maps celebrating the Canal?s completion in 1869. It is interesting to compare the present work to another magnificent map that Erhard Scheble made to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal; please see the example held by the David Rumsey Collection: :;sort:P ub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No;lc:RUMSEY~8~1&mi=18&trs= 260 The French language map is of a more technical nature and of a different style than the Ottoman language map, while the geographic perspective is similar, not to mention the use of resplendent colours. The present map is very rare and is seemingly unrecorded; we have not been able to trace even a reference to the map, let alone the location of another example. Indeed, the map would have been issued in only a very small print run and being quite fragile would have had a low survival rate. The Suez Canal: Nexus between East and West Building a canal across the Isthmus of Suez, connecting the Mediterranean (Atlantic / Western) World with the Indian Ocean (Eastern World) had been one of the great ambitions of the modern era. Since the 16th Century, trade with Asia had become one of Europe?s greatest sources of wealth; however, the rounding of Africa was a horrendous ordeal, 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi) longer than a supposed shortcut through the Suez. Curiously, the Ancient Egyptians and Persians had succeeded in building shallow canals connecting the Mediterranean with the Red Sea through the Suez Isthmus, but these channels had long silted up, and subsequent climate change (mainly desertification and weaker rainy seasons) had made the replication of similar canals impossible. While the Venetians considered building a canal across the Suez Isthmus in 16th Century and Napoleon Bonaparte seriously investigated creating a canal at the end of the 18th Century, neither of these ventures got off the ground, due to political and technical obstacles. The notion of the building a Trans-Suez Canal was revived in the 1830s. However, Britain, the dominant foreign influence in Egypt (then an autonomous part of the Ottoman Empire) opposed the building of a canal. Whitehall feared that such a route would threaten its stranglehold over Indian maritime trade and was especially reticent to allow the construction of such a canal across foreign territory. Instead, Britain backed the construction of trans-Egyptian railway lines carrying inter-oceanic freight (lines that they could supposedly control, or shut down, if necessary). This position would later seem ironic, as the British Empire would be by far and away the greatest beneficiary of the Suez Canal. From 1848, France contested Britain?s influence in Egypt, and Mohamed Sa?id Pasha, who became the ruler of the country in 1854, greatly preferred the Gallic side. To Whitehall?s astonishment, that same year he granted a concession to build the Suez Canal to Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805 - 1894), a charismatic impresario and diplomat who had served as a French consul in Egypt for many years. Lesseps proved to be a stellar organizer, and quickly corralled immense financial and technical resources, founding the Compagnie universelle du Canal Maritime de Suez. The project broke ground in 1859, and for the first few years it relied upon coree labour, with 30,000 workers toiling along the isthmus at only one time (amazingly over the decade of the canal?s construction over 1.5 million different people laboured on the project at various times!). The use of mass forced labour was highly controversial, even in Egypt, especially as thousands of workers died of diseases and accidents. The British, who still adamantly opposed the project, successfully fomented a workers? rebellion that for a while placed the project in lethal jeopardy. However, Lesseps and his expert team persevered, finding the funds to pay workers, while their technical masterly of the project was on the avant-garde of engineering. The canal was completed and officially opened for business on November 17, 1869. As shown on the map, it had a length of 164 km (102 miles) and was uniformly 8 metres (26 feet) deep, sufficient for the drafts of most vessels. Notably, the canal was to be open to the shipping of all nations, as an early example of an international condominium. While the project cost thousands of lives and was two times over budget, Lesseps? achievement was globally hailed as total success, as many were awestruck by the reality of joining the two oceans. The Suez Canal immediately had a transformative impact upon global trade, as shipping between Asia and Europe grew exponentially. European manufactured products became sufficiently cheap to flood the Asian markets, while less expensive Asian commodities swelled into Western markets. There were also great political ramifications, as European powers were now able to quickly move troops to buttress their positions in their Eastern colonies. In a broader sense, the Suez Canal was also the lynchpin of the global transportation revolution that occurred in 1869-1870. Prior to that time, circumnavigating the globe took the better part of a year - at best. However, in May 1869, the first transcontinental railway crossing North America, the Central Pacific Railroad, was completed, cutting travel time between San Francisco to New York to 8 days (instead of several weeks). The opening of the Suez Canal followed in November 1869. In March 1870, the first railway traversing the Indian Subcontinent opened, connecting Bombay to Calcutta (avoiding the long sea voyage around India). For the first time, travelling vast distances across continents could be accomplished with relative speed and comfort, with transformative economic, social and political implications. The new reality inspired Jules Verne to write his classic Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Ironically, Britain, who had adamantly opposed the creation of the Suez Canal turned out to be its greatest beneficiary. Almost immediately, British-Asian trading firms saw a huge spike in business, while Whitehall was able to tighten its control over India. Britain gained a minority interest in the canal in 1875, before assuming majority control in 1882 (when Egypt became a British protectorate). The dramatically increased European presence in the Red Sea and the British takeover of Egypt deeply concerned the Sublime Porte. It was one of the key factors that motivated Sultan Abdulaziz (r. 1861-76) to deploy his best general, Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, at the head of a large army, to invade the interior of Northern Yemen and Asir, shoring up the empire?s hitherto lose control over the region. Sultan Abdul Hamid II (reigned 1876 - 1909) considered the Suez Canal to be a clear and present danger to maintaining Ottoman control over Hejaz, with Islam?s holiest cities of Mecca and Medina, the possession of which underpinned his claim to being the Caliph (Protector) of Islam. Accordingly, he founded a major permanent naval base at Jeddah in 1887 and dramatically stepped up the Ottoman military presence in Hejaz, Asir and Yemen. Most importantly, as an ?All Ottoman, All Muslim? transport alternative for Haj Pilgrims to the European-controlled Suez Canal, in 1900, Abdul Hamid II initiated the construction of the Hejaz railway, which was to run from Damascus to Mecca (although the line never extended beyond Medina, which was accomplished in 1908). Meanwhile the Suez Canal had become the greatest lifeline of the British Empire. During World War I, Ottoman-German forces made credible attempts take the canal, which were only defeated by British imperial forces with great difficulty. The Suez Canal continued to be British controlled until 1956, when Egyptian President Abdel Gamal Nasser famously seized the waterway during the ?Suez Crisis?. The canal has since been greatly enlarged such that it can now handle ?Super Max? tanker ships. In recent times, over 18,000 vessels traverse the canal annually, such that the Suez retains its place as one of the World?s great commercial arteries.
Last updated: Oct 20, 2020