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  • Counter :
  • 1656
  • Date :
  • 5/10/2006

General Maps of Persia 1477 - 1925

by Cyrus Alai

Iran, or Persia as it was known in the West for most of its long history, has been mapped extensively for centuries but the absence of a good cartobibliography has often deterred scholars of its history and geography from making use of the many detailed maps that were produced. This is now available, prepared by Cyrus Alai, who embarked on a lengthy investigation into the old maps of Persia, and visited major map collections and libraries in many countries.

With over four hundred separate map entries and over two hundred illustrations, this work covers all the important printed general maps of Persia from the early editions of Ptolemy at the end of the 15th century until 1925 when the Qajar dynasty was overthrown. Useful historical accounts provide the background to this wealth of cartographic achievement. After a description of the many editions of Ptolemy, later maps are divided into groups according to the country where they were produced: Italy, the Low Countries, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, America, Persia, Turkey, and Spain with Portugal. This permits the work of a single cartographer to be handled in an uninterrupted sequence, thus aiding quick reference to a particular style of map, and its later offshoots.

At the end of each major entry, further details concerning different editions and variations, other related maps, historical notes and unique or important features are provided, thus fitting the map into its chronological background. The large number of indexes at the end of the book should enable map collectors, dealers and librarians to identify any map of Persia with ease.

This book is a good balance between history and geography, and will appeal to a wide range of readers. Many Persian maps have surely been rescued from obscurity, and it is now possible to study sequence of developing geographical knowledge over a historically and economically important part of Asia. It is unlikely to be superseded for a very long time.

About the Author
Cyrus Alai was born in Iran and received his Ph.D. degree (Dr.-Ing.) from ‘Die Technische Universität, Berlin-Charlottenburg’. He founded a group of engineering companies in Iran which he directed for twenty years, and he also lectured at the University of Teheran for eight years. Dr. Alai settled later in England, working as a consulting engineer and at the same time studying the history of cartography and collecting old maps of Persia. He has written numerous articles on ‘the cartography of Persia’ and ‘the traditional cartography of classical Islamic societies’, including the entry ‘Geography: Cartography of Persia’ for theEncyclopaedia Iranica.

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