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Hellespont (Dardanelles)

This natural pass from one continent to the other, Europe to Asia, mentioned already in times of Homer, has always been the apple of contention between all rulers of the East and the West, as command of the straits would ensure control over the whole surounding area.

Gallipoli occupies a strategic spot on the Dardanelles. It was an important city already in Byzantine times as it was instrumental to the protection of the capital from raids from sea or land. It was a naval base and a retreat of the Sultans, who reorganized its shipyards. In addition, Gallipoli was an export centre of Thracian products and a French consulate was established there in the 17th century.  The port was a point of control of all ships coming in or out of the strait, independently of their origin. The harbour, although small, had enough space for fustas, galiots, brigantines, galleys and barges. 

This major maritime pass was mapped in the work by P. Belon in the 16th century (1554). H.J. Breuning copies this map in 1615, emphasizing the castles on the two opposite shores. A schematic rendering of the area is seen on the maps by G. Sandys (1615), F. Moryson (1617) and L. Deshayes de Courmenin (1624).

The subjects of the illustrations which accompany this edition of J. Spon 's voyage (1678), which is highly significant for the author's pioneering exploration of ancient sites, are novel and groundbreaking for their time. Most of the pictures are first-ever depictions of archaeological sites and remains.

J.B. Lechevalier completes the account of his archaeogical research on Troy with a detailed map of the surrounding area (1880), while the main anchorages are mapped in the work by J. Roux (1804). A precise map of the strait is found in the work by French naturalist G.A.Olivier (1801) and a few years later A.L. Castellan published a map showing part of the region, with several details (1811). 

Naturally, the major work by M.G.F.A. Choiseul-Gouffier (1822) also includes a view of the Strait (1822). In addition, the Atlas to J.J. abbé Barthélemy's travel narrative and fictional recreation of the ancient world has a map of the wider area of Propontis (Thrace and the Dardanelles).

G.J. Grelot's drawing (1680) represents an attempt to render the totality of the maritime pass and its fortresses in the style reminiscent of modern aerial photography. This view was copied in the works by J. Sandrart (1686) and J.A. Guer (1746-47). A similar “take” of the Dardanelles is found in the work by H. Blount (1707). Nineteenth-century general views of the strait convey this space partially, but, needless to say, much more faithfully. (A.Ig. Melling in 1819, Ch.C. Frankland in 1829, J. Skene in 1838-45, Piraeus and Ports in a 1890 view).

The editions by J. Enderlin include copies of engravings found in earlier or nearly contemporary popular works (1686). The plates in the work by J. Sandrart (1687) show castles and other location, in their majority under Ottoman rule. Several similar works which highlight the victories of the Venetians against the Ottomans in the Sixth Ottoman-Venetian War (1684-1699) were released during the same period. The editions by J. Peeters in the late 17th century (1686 and 1690) also exalt the victories of the Holy League in the Ottoman-Venetian wars. The plates show cities, ports and other locations in Austria, Southeastern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean and places in Asia all the way to India and Saudi Arabia.  The work by J. Lauremberg (1660) includes excellent engravings of maps of ancient Greece. The maps are accompanied by historical and geographical explanatory texts, which testify to the author's deep erudition.

Like all similar works, the isolario of Antonio Millo (1582-91) is enriched by engravings already published in contemporary editions. Antonio marks perillous waters on the maps of his isolaria, and uses the place names found in contemporary portolani.

J. Maurand (1544) provides one of the earliest representations of fortifications on both sides of the straits, showing detailed views of the fortrsses. The isolario by G. Rosaccio (1598) also depicts castles on the Asian and the European shore of the Dardanelles, as do the chronicles by H. Beauvau and G. Sandys(1615).

Views of fortresses are also shown in orignal engravings by J. Sandrart (1686). The castles of the area are conveyed in detail in the works by B. Randolph (1687), C. de Bruyn (1717) and J. Moreno (1790), as well as in the major historical and geographical treatise by Ol. Dapper (“Archipel”, 1688) and in the account by J. Pitton de Tournefort (1717) which constituted an indispensable guide to the archipelago. A copy of a plate by J. Grelot showing the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles is included in a book in small format which describes the fortresses of the Dardanelles (“Descrizione” in 1770). The plates which illustrate the travel account by N. Er. Kleeman (1771), constitute, like the account itself, an early traveller's testimony of the region of the Black Sea. J. Seller was the creator of the first detailed mapping of the Mediterranean coast, titled “English Pilot...” . First published in the 17th century, it was repeatedly reissued and continued to be used down to the 19th century (here in the 1771 edition). Seller's works established the use of the English language in maritime charts and greatly influenced later cartographic editions. It includes maps of the local shores. The rich cartographic production of the late 18th century includes the remarkable maps of P.G. Chanlaire (c. 1780), here coloured over.

Detailed representations of other buildings situated in cities of the straits are found in the chronicle by A.L. Castellan (1811), which includes several original subjects. The monumental work by M.G.F.A. Choiseul-Gouffier, which establishes the primacy of image in travel accounts, also contains depictions of fortresses (1822). 

Views of castles and cities are also found in the richly illustrated travel works by  J.H. Allan and E. Rey (1867), both individual accounts of the Grand Tour of the East, ssen at the time as sign of social status of educated and wealthy Europeans as well as a means to acquire knowledge.

The Hellespont is also included in representations of other subjects related to the general area, such as in W. Gell's detailed work on Troy (1809) or Εd.D. Clarke's chronicle (1814). Military officers, itinerant traders and scenes of everyday life are depicted, albeit somewhat awkwardly, in the plates created by the painter Lachaise (1821).

The Album of 1984 includes rare and very interesting wood engravings taken from the  pioneering weekly review “The Illustrated London News” (1842-1885) and the similarly themed magazine “The Graphic” (1869-1885). The plates depict locations, people and events (political, social and military), from 1842 to 1885.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou