The most ambitious effort, before the time of Napoleon, to explore and map out the Nile was undertaken by the Ottomans, as attested by two monumental documents: an elaborate map, with 450 rubrics; and a lengthy travel account. Both were achieved at about the same time – c. 1685 – and both apparently by the same man. Evliya Çelebi’s account of his Nile journeys, in Volume 10 of The Book of Travels (Seyahatname), has been known to the scholarly world since 1938. The map, in the Vatican Library, has been known to the scholarly world since 1949. A first edition of it was published in 2011. The authors of that edition, Robert Dankoff and Nuran Tezcan, demonstrated in detail that the map should be attributed to Evliya Çelebi. The edition of the map included here (which, considered as a text, is extraordinarily challenging philologically) incorporates many new readings, bringing it a step closer to a definitive edition. This volume also contains Evliya’s six journeys, his travels in Egypt and Sudan and along the Red Sea coast, as well as problems regarding dates and authenticity of the journeys. The relation of the map and The Book of Travels is analysed, including similarities and correspondences in content, language, and style, along with discrepancies between the two documents and how to account for them.
Robert Dankoff has taught at Brandeis University, the University of Arizona, and the University of Chicago, where he is Professor Emeritus of Turkish and Islamic Studies. His major publications include The Intimate Life of an Ottoman Statesman: Melek Ahmed Pasha (1588-1662), as portrayed in Evliya Çelebi’s Book of Travels (Seyahat-name)(1991); An Ottoman Mentality: The World of Evliya Çelebi (2004, 2006); An Ottoman Traveller: Selections from the Book of Travels of Evliya Çelebi (2010, with Sooyong Kim).
Nuran Tezcan was assistant professor at Eastern Mediterranean University in North Cyprus from 200 to 2003, and from 2003 to 2016 she was associate professor at the Department of Turkish Literature of Bilkent University in Ankara. Her most recent publications include: Evliyâ Çelebi’nin Nil Haritası: Dürr-i bî-misîl în Ahbâr-ı Nîl (2011, with Robert Dankoff ); Divan Edebiyatına Yeniden Bakıs (2016).
Michael D. Sheridan recently completed his Ph.D. at Bilkent University, Ankara, with a dissertation using the corpus of Ottoman invective verse of the early 17th century to investigate emerging sociocultural tensions within the elite classes. His research focuses on Ottoman cultural and literary history as well as on the comparative cultural history of the early modern period in Europe, the Near East, and South Asia.