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Dictionary Project, Volume X: Turkey in Asia

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 20.

Today is also my Mom’s birthday. Happy 79th, Mom! (Not that I expect she’ll see this post, but you never know.) And she loves turkey (the food), so this is a Turkey Breakfast for her.

Map of Turkey in Asia, 1897

Turkey’s Asian section has changed a bunch since this map was drawn. Its northeastern border is further both north and east, and abuts Georgia (to the north) and a tiny Armenia (to the east), where Russian Transcaucasia used to be.

To the southeast, Turkey includes Mesopotamia, whose ancient name is shown as El-Jezireh, which translates as “the island”. This makes sense; Mesopotamia means “between rivers” (meso = middle; potamus = river), and refers to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. With long bodies of water on either side, Mesopotamia was virtually an island, even further back than 1897. So now I know what the Al Jazeera media network’s name means. Most of Mesopotamia is now Iraq, and it’s labelled “Irak-el-Arabi” here. Baghdad is built on the Tigris, and Fallujah on the Euphrates.

To the west, along the Mediterranean, the Turkish Empire includes part of modern Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, and all of Israel & Lebanon (ancient Palestine, Arabia Petraea, and Phoenicia), all under the single name of Syria.

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

Fascinating differences, right? Do you see any I missed?

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