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OLIVIER, Guillaume Antoine. Atlas pour servir au Voyage dans l'Empire Othoman, l'Egypte et la Perse, fait par ordre du gouvernement, pendant les six premières années de la République, Paris, Chez H. Agasse, An ΙΧ [1801].

Guillaume-Antoine Olivier (1756-1814) was a French naturalist, botanist and entomologist. He studied medicine at Monpellier but was more inclined towards natural sciences. Olivier practiced as a physician in his native city without much zeal. Soon he turned to the natural sciences which interested him more, and was sent on an expedition to collect insects in the Netherlands, Britain and elsewhere. He wrote entries on insects and spiders in the “Encyclopédie Méthodique”, and important articles on coleoptera in a multi-volume specialized encyclopedia.

At the age of thirty-six Olivier set out as member of an expedition financed by the French state (1792-1799), in the company of M. Bruguiére. They travelled to Istanbul, the Aegean islands, Crete, Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia all the way to Persia. During his travels, thanks to his knowledge and scientific experience Olivier was able to acquire a vast collection, which is now housed in the Museum of Natural History in Paris. He was also member of the Academy of Sciences and taught zoology at the Veterinary school.

In the six-volume account of his voyage to the East, Olivier classifies information on geography, production, commerce, agriculture and geology, medicine, culture and laws of the lands he visited, as well as on “economic and political arts”, with diligence and austerity, abstaining from anecdotes. Olivier's appraisal of ethnic groups reflect the liberal ideas of the time. The “Atlas” is comprised almost exclusively of maps and tables on natural history. Only two of them concern mores and culture.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou

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