Southwest Arabia: Ebha, Sheet 4


This 1917 map is part of a series of nine large-scale depictions of the southwestern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. It was published by the British Ordnance Survey in cooperation with the Geographical Section of the General Staff at the War Office, which published the series of maps of the peninsula covering Ta’izz, Mecca, Taʼif, Kunfuda (or al-Qunfudhah), Wadi Bishah, Abha, Wadi Shehran, Saada, and Sanaʻa. The map covers the area around the city of Ebha (present-day Abha, Saudi Arabia). It shows the Red Sea coast and the thinly settled upland areas bordering the higher ranges to the south. Much of the Arabian Peninsula was part of the Ottoman Empire. Although most British military and political efforts in the early 20th century were concentrated towards the north, the entire region was caught up in the British campaign in World War I to wrest the Middle East from the Ottomans. The map was designed by army intelligence officer and traveler Francis Richard Maunsell (1861−1929). Maunsell had earlier explored and mapped the eastern portions of Anatolia and the adjacent areas of Syria, Iraq, and Iran. His reports were held closely by the government, but parts were published in his 1901 article “Central Kurdistan” in The Geographical Journal. He was also an accomplished photographer and produced dramatic photographs during his Arabian travels. It is not clear how much of southwestern Arabia he himself knew. Notes list several sources for Maunsell’s cartography, including French and German maps and even Turkish Admiralty charts.

Last updated: March 21, 2016