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Istanbul exhibits maps of Ottoman geographers

Turkey: The Ottoman Worldview from Piri Reis to Katip Çelebi exhibition was on display in Istanbul. The five-day exhibition featured maps that display the Ottomans’ refined cartographic skills in pre-modern era, especially with 16th century maps of the world. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the exhibition titled “The Ottoman Worldview from Piri Reis to Katip Çelebi,” organised by Istanbul’s Bahçeşehir University Civilization Studies Center, or MEDAM.

Although the focus was on works from the 1500s, the maps shed light on the Ottoman worldview. Works by the famous admiral and geographer Piri Reis, including a world map produced in 1513, The Book of Navigation completed in 1526 and the second world map produced in 1528, all present the Ottomans’ view of the world in the 16th century. Piri Reis’ works pointed out scientific techniques used in Ottoman geography and cartography during that period.

 “These maps reveal that the Ottoman State was the leader of the world. We are showing our forgotten heritage to the world thanks to this exhibition,” said Erdoğan. “The maps, which were prepared by Piri Reis in the 16th century as if they were taken by satellite, as well as the works of Katip Çelebi, are very important since they show the power of the Ottomans at that time,” he added.

Alliance of Civilizations Turkey Coordinator and MEDAM President Professor Bekir Karlığa said, “UNESCO had already declared 2009 as the Katip Çelebi Year. This is why we have organised this exhibition. Our main goal was to show how the Ottomans saw the world in the 17th century. Maps became very effective in reaching this goal.”

The exhibition, which is being organised for the 400th anniversary of Katip Çelebi’s birth, was earlier opened at the San Bernardino State University in California, the UNESCO Hall in Paris, the Damascus National Museum, as well as in Istanbul, Ankara, and the provinces of Bilecik, Mardin, Diyarbakır, Batman and Siirt.

The exhibition also aims to shed light on the chronological route and development of cartography up until the Ottoman period with several examples of maps produced by Muslim geographers and of Ptolemaic geography in earlier periods.

Despite being prepared in the traditional style, the works of Piri Reis are portolan maps based on his personal experience, observations, and earlier maps from the East and West. Although they lack longitude and latitude lines, they are as precise as scientific maps for practical naval purposes since they have a projection centre and are adjusted for variation.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

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