Historic Maps of Armenia The Cartographic Heritage
I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.
London and New York
ISBN 1-86064-979-3, March 2004, 220 pages, £49.50
Armenia has a history spanning 2,500 years. Throughout this time, its size and shape have changed dramatically in response to political forces. Once as large as France and Germany combined, it now occupies an area roughly the size of Belgium. Cartography has also undergone many changes, since the earliest lines were drawn on clay tablets or etched in stone. Rouben Galichian brings both of these elements together in his book Historic Maps of Armenia: The Cartographic Heritage (I.B. Tauris), presenting a history of Armenia through the history of its maps.
The earliest map in this collection is a Babylonian tablet dating from 600 BC. Coming forward in time we see Greek and Alexandrian, Christian, Ottoman, and Islamic maps, presented in chorological order, and ending with a satellite photo taken in 2002. This book includes 127 colour maps and 36 detailed ones. Each is accompanied by a detailed explanation showing its origin and use, date, cartographer, size, and location today. According to the publisher, “The author has produced a work of reference and artistic distinction, which should prove a valuable tool to all who follow the history of Armenia, the Caucasus, the Ottoman and Iranian worlds, as well as to collectors and enthusiasts of cartography.“
A unique feature of the book is its page layout and printing. Even though the publisher is British, they’ve chosen to have the production completed in Armenia. If you thought that this might mean shoddy materials and poor standards – this is not the case. The colour renderings are magnificent, the paper is heavy duty, and the book itself is just top notch – and at £49.50 it is worth every penny.
You may not have the time to go to the British Museum, the Bibliotèque National de France, or the other libraries and museums around the world – as Mr. Galichian did to see these maps himself. Now you don’t have to.
© 2005 Susan Smith Thompson
This review was originally published in the Geographical magazine in the United Kingdom. February 2005
Here’s a picture of it!