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Dictionary Project, Volume X: The Balkan Peninsula & Turkey in Europe

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 18.

We move south from The Russias of yesteryear to the Balkan Peninsula of yesteryear! As we’ve come to expect, the borders are different now.

Map of the Balkans, 1897

Montenegro is more or less the same here as it is today (possibly it’s of little strategic, economic, or resource interest?), but “Servia” is much bigger now than it was in 1897. Albania is named on the map, but only as an “ancient geographical name”, same as Thrace, Macedonia, and Greece (huh?). I can’t see any border between Greece and Turkey, oddly. Greece won independence from the Ottoman empire in 1821, long before this map was drawn. Wikipedia tells me that the Greco-Turkish War was under way in 1897, though, so perhaps mapmaker uncertainty accounts for the lack of a defined border.

I’d never heard of Eastern Rumelia before I saw it on this map; it’s part of Bulgaria now. Rumania has reclaimed some of what was Hungary–and a chunk of Black Sea coast called Dobrudja–to make the bigger “Romania” of nowadays.

My favourite detail on this map, though, is one of the red dotted lines that represent shipping routes. There’s one (you can see it in F-11) that goes from Gallipoli, in Turkey to Hull, in England. This was before World War I, so I’m greatly intrigued to know what worldly good or resource was making that journey regularly.

Dipping into this atlas, is whetting my appetite for historical research. I am on the lookout for an interesting spark for a story in this little treasure trove, is this volume, or any other. Or several at once, perhaps.

Ah, dusty ol’ books. I love ’em.

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