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Dictionary Project, Volume X: Arabia

The Dictionary Project is a post-a-day exploration of The Century Dictionary and Cylopedia, a twelve-volume set printed in New York in 1901. The Project runs from October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015, and matches volume numbers to calendar months. Volume X is The Atlas, and today is Day 21.

Part of Turkey in Asia, Arabia, Oman and Aden, with insets of Jerusalem and Modern Palestine. There is a lot to absorb here.

Map of Arabia, 1897

Here’s how the area looks today, for comparison purposes:

This 1897 map was drawn more than 30 years before oil reserves were discovered under the peninsula. The Turkish (Ottoman) Empire controls much of the Arabian coastline. King Abdulaziz ibn Saud is still years away from the first step in his campaign to bring all of central Arabia under his rule, in the country that still bears his name: Saudi Arabia. World War I, and the simultaneous Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, which created a single unified Arab state from Aleppo in Syria to Yemen, and threw off Ottoman rule, are nearly two decades away. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the French and British at the end of World War I, created some of the borders (and many of the associated disputes) that exist today.

T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was an active participant in the Arab Revolt, and contributed a great deal of information and mapping to the British, and helped inform their mandate for Mesopotamia for partition, particularly in creating the state of Iraq.

I haven’t delved deeply into the subject, so I can’t be sure when Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the Emirates became sovereign nations. (If you know, tell me!) I’m quite fascinated.

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