Culture & Travel

25 January 2021
The World’s First Atlas: KLAUDIOS PTOLEMAIOS

This week, we talk about the world’s first atlas: Klaudios Ptolemaios’ Atlas. Klaudios Ptolemaios is a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician from Alexandria. He was one of the most famous scientists and scholars of his time. 

Klaudios Ptolemaios’ Atlas, which is known as the “Hand Guide of Geography” was introduced to us with its original facsimile print in 2018. The press meeting of the atlas was held at İstanbul Technical University (ITU). ITU’s President Prof. Dr. Mehmet Karaca and Faculty Member Celal Şengör explained the importance of this book and talked about its historical background. 

Şengör emphasized that as Constantinople (İstanbul) was being ransacked in 1464, Mehmet the Conqueror reserved some books for himself and then these books were translated into Turkish from their originals in the Ottoman Turkish. He wanted Amirutnez, who was a high-ranked state official at the time, to prepare a world map. And the Atlas was found during the preparation of the said map. Şengör said in the meeting that “the Atlas was found during the preparation of this map. Mehmet the Conqueror instantly fell in love with it. But after his death, the Atlas was neglected. According to Prof. Fuchs’ statement, who restored the original atlas, the book was left under water for a year in Topkapı Palace’s dungeons.”

Şengör continued the book’s story about how it became dear to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and said, “Adolf Deissman told Halil Ethem that the book needed to be restored. Hali lEthem agreed, but said they needed to get permission. They explained to Atatürk that a book was found. And that they would bring it over for his Excellency to view. Atatürk said, “Do not move the book, I am coming over,” and that is how the book resurfaced in 1929. 

After that, the book remained in Topkapı Palace for another 70 years and its 2nd Volume (the original copy) was reprinted by Boyut Yayıncılık.

1st Volume: 

KLAUDIOS PTOLEMAIOS

Faksimile/Geographike Hyphegesis/Tıpkı basım

2nd Volume:

ALFRED STÜCKELBERGER

FLORIAN MITTENHUBER

ROBERT FUCHS

Restorations between 1927-1929 and 2003-2011 / Research Report

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