Map of the Month: May 2024

Published May 10, 2024
Updated May 15, 2024

This month, we’re going to travel to the birthplace of civilization: Mesopotamia. The earliest known human settlements are found in the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, and they have had constant human habitation since. 

The map, published in the middle 1916 as part of Edward Stanford’s London Atlas Series and titled “The Euphrates Valley, Syria, Kurdistan, &c” is a map of the region during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.

Map of the Euphrates Valley in the early 1900s while it was a part of the Ottoman Empire. Turkish territory has a slight green tint. Administrative entities (vilayets) are denoted with red borders.
Turkish territory has a slight green tint. Administrative entities (vilayets) are denoted with red borders.

The administrative divisions (vilayets) of the region bear little resemblance to the modern day countries in the region. Persia, modern-day Iran, is on the right-hand side. Kurdistan is draped over the entire top-center of the map, ending near the previous label. The map’s numerous overlapping labels sometimes make it difficult to distinguish between an administrative label versus cultural or geographic ones.

A zoom in on the section of the map centered on the city of Baghdad along the Tigris River. The old ruins of Babylon can be seen just above this caption in the center-left.
Modern day Iraq is part of the Baghdad Territory. The old ruins of Babylon can be seen just above this caption in the center-left.

The vilayet of Beyrout is composed of two parts, isolated from each other by the Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate. The Mutasarrifate is an autonomous region of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) created in 1861 as a homeland for the Maronites, a Syriac Christian ethnoreligious group, following a civil conflict in the region.

A zoom in on the area covering modern-day Lebanon.
The two Beyrouts, separated from each other by Lebanon.

One could spend hours exploring the rich geography communicated by this map. Even the famous ruins of Petra are labeled. Another detail of note on the map is a route that Muslim pilgrims would take for their voyage to Mecca. The southern section of the is about as barren as the Arabian Desert it represents.

Explore the many more historic, geographic, and cartographic curiosities in a new interactive web map on ASU GeoData that georeferences the digitized paper map: 1916 The Euphrates Valley, Syria, Kurdistan, &c. (web map). Additionally, a new GIS layer of the 1916 administrative divisions presented by this map has been added to ASU GeoData for GIS users and mappers wishing to work with raw data: Territory of the Euphrates Valley in 1916 (GIS layer).
 

We hope you enjoyed our May 2024 Map of the Month:

  • Title: The Euphrates Valley, Syria, Kurdistan, &c.
  • Date: 1916
  • Author: Edward Stanford

As with all of our Map of the Month features, if you’d like to get a scanned copy of this map, please submit a Map and Geo Service Request and we’ll be sure to get back to you within two business days, but typically sooner. 

     -Eric Friesenhahn, Map and GIS Specialist