Istanbul 2020

Travelers, Cartographers and Archaeologists

8th International Symposium on the History of Cartography
German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Istanbul, Turkey
21-23 April 2020

In 2020, the worldwide pandemic forced a late cancellation of the symposium. As an alternative, authors of accepted presentations were encouraged to submit full papers on their work for publication in an open access proceedings volume, which can be found here: The volume also contains a preface by commission chair Imre Demhardt, with the full story on the course the symposium took from spring 2020 to the summer of 2021.
At this time (autumn 2021) it is planned to catch up on the postponed symposium by organising a similarly themed workshop linked to the 30th International Cartographic Conference in Florence (Italy) in December 2021 – the pandemic permitting.


Since its massive expansion under Sultans Selim I (1512-20) and Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-66), the Ottoman Empire extended from the Algerian shores to Georgia in the Caucasus and from Hungary in the heart of Europe to Yemen on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Albeit in a long decline thereafter, the core of this multi-cultural conglomerate survived into the early 20th century, before it finally disintegrated after World War I. Throughout these five centuries, the Ottomans deeply influenced these heterogeneous countries with at times closer or looser ties to the metropolis Constantinople, leaving a multi-faceted cartographic legacy behind.
The symposium is open to everyone with an interest in the cartography of the (former) Ottoman countries during, but not limited to, the 16th to 20th centuries. The symposium will focus on two main themes:


1) Cartography of the Ottoman Countries in Europe, Asia and Africa

  • Ottoman cartography (maps and charts, city and cadastral plans, thematic maps)
  • Foreign cartography of Ottoman countries
  • Geodesy and surveying methods developed under Ottoman rule and by foreign cartographers working in these areas
  • The impact of the military on the development of cartography
  • Cartographic collections in the former Ottoman countries and around the world


2) Mapping Archaeological Sites, Landscapes and Excavations in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and 20th Centuries

  • Technical and conceptual development of archaeological cartography, from the earliest site plans to the introduction of GIS and 3D reconstructions
  • Dichotomy between “accurate” cartographic representation and archaeological interpretation when mapping manmade artefacts, features and landscapes
  • Relationship between cartography, archaeology and the military



The venue will be the Library of the DAI at the Consulate General of Germany, located in the heart of Istanbul, next to Taksim Square.




A list of accepted presentations can be found here.


We are delighted to announce that professor Celâl Şengör from the Istanbul Technical University will deliver a keynote address at the icebreaker reception in the Kaisersaal of the German Consulate on Monday evening (20/4) before the start of the conference.
Geological mapping in the Ottoman Empire and in the early years of the Turkish Republic. What do they teach us about science in the periphery of Europe.
Before the comprehensive social reforms of Atatürk, there was no Turkish initiative to produce a geological map of the country, because there were no geologists. Some geology had been taught in the Imperial School of Engineers (the present Istanbul Technical University), but only as part of the civil engineering curriculum. The attempt to establish a geological institute in the Darülfünun (now University of Istanbul) was frustrated by World War I. Consequently, with a single exception, geological maps of Turkey had been produced by foreign scientists, who mostly came as travelers or explorers. One of the first geological maps in the world was that by Guillaume-Antoine Olivier of the surroundings of Istanbul. Later a succession of foreign scientists produced maps of ever increasing quality and scope. It is remarkable that it did not occur to the Ottoman administration to found a geological survey. Even after the foundation of the Republic in 1923, a geological survey could only be established in 1935 in Ankara. Before that the increased mapping activity was undertaken by the professors of the University of Istanbul and the Engineering School. Transplanting science into a society with no scientific tradition has proved very difficult in Turkey, notwithstanding its centuries-old proximity to Europe.


Registrations are closed.


Questions regarding the symposium can be directed to:
Imre Demhardt – ICA Commission on the History of Cartography: demhardt(at)
Andreas Schachner – German Archaeological Institute (DAI), Department Istanbul: andreas.schachner(at)