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Marmara sea (Propontis)

All the maritime routes from the Aegean Sea to Istanbul and vice versa crossed the sea of Marmara (Propontis in antiquity). Consequently, maps of the area are frequently found in travellers' works.

The earliest map available is found in the printed isolario of B. Bordone (1547), which is accompanied by an explanatory text on the history of the area. Approximately a century later, the map of the Dardanelles included in the account of J.J. Grelot (1680), a work quite significant for its descriptions of Istanbul monuments, shows part of Marmara sea. The same map is found in the work by J.A. Guer, seventy years later (1746-47). 

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.

A map of Istanbul which includes part of Marmara sea was repeatedly copied and used in several travel works, such as the ones by G. Rosaccio (in 1598) and O.G. Busbecq (1664). 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. There are two more significant maps of the area: one is found the travel chronicle by F. Moryson (1617) and the other in the work by J. Moreno (1790). 

The account by R. Pococke (1745), highly impressive due to its text and illustration, includes an interesting map of Marmara sea. Equally interesting is the map of the region in the work by French architect A.L. Castellan (1811). The important anchorages of Cyzicus area are mapped in the port index by J. Roux (1804). The first systematic charting of the inland was realized by J.P. Lechevalier (1800), whose work is invaluable for its account of the first archaeological exploration of the Troad.

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. Fr. Calvert (Baron Baltimore) mapped Istanbul and the surrounding area in a singular way (1769). 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). In addition, J..J. abbé Barthélemy's travel narrative and fictional recreation of antiquity, which creates an idyllic panorama of the ancient world, is accompanied by maps and drawings (1823 reedition), including a map of Propontis and the wider area (Thrace and the Dardanelles). The rich cartographic production of the late 18th century includes the remarkable maps of P.G. Chanlaire (c. 1780), here coloured over.

Another group of engravings depicting Propontis are panoramic views of Istanbul; some of which show Marmara sea in the background (C. Comidas de Carbognano's (1794), Ig. Melling in 1819, Ch.C. Frankland in 1829, Julia Pardoe in 1838 and Julia Pardoe in 1839, G. Fossati in 1852, Et. Rey in 1867). The companion atlas to the travel account by Ch. Pertusier (1817) is placed among the most beautiful Albums of Istanbul. Albums with views of cities and snapshots of everyday life of the inhabitants remained popular during the 19th century and responded to the reading public's demand for images and scenes from the East. (J. Schranz, c. 1850).

There are also unique illustrations of cities on Marmara sea. A view of Istanbul from the sea walls looking towards Marmara sea is found in a hand-drawn sketch by J. Maurand (1544), a specimen of local fauna in the work by French naturalist P. Belon (1554), remains of a Byzantine structure in the edition by Ch.M. Texier (1882), important for its description of Asia Minor monuments, two views of Prince Islands in the “Album” by R. Walsh / Th. Allom (1836) and finally a female costume from Marmara Island (Proconnesos) in the Album of Oc. Dalvimart (1804). Harmonious with his text, the drawings by French traveller A.L. Castellan accompany his gentle discourse. Military officers, itinerant traders and scenes of everyday life are depicted, albeit somewhat awkwardly, in the plates created by the painter Lachaise (1821). Published in an elegant, small-format editon which came out in multiple volumes, they convey a unique perspective and present rare and original subjects (1812).  Although most of the plates in  Ed. D. Clarke's work (1816) are mainly of archaeological interest, these engravings are also very valuable for the recomposition of the locations' recent history and the uncommon subjects which they show.

Written by Ioli Vingopoulou