Arabian Gulf or Red Sea


This map, "Golfe Arabique ou Mer Rouge" (Arabian Gulf or Red Sea), by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville was published in Paris in 1765. It is a very large copperplate engraved map of the Red Sea showing shorelines, islands, cities and settlements, roads, ports and anchorages, and shoals and sandbanks from Suez to the southern tip of Yemen. Four insets show the port of Giddah (present-day Jiddah, Saudi Arabia), Suakem (present-day Suakin Island, Sudan), Matzua and Arkiko (present-day Hirgigo and Massawa, both in Eritrea), and al-Babo (literally, the mouth), where the Red Sea empties into the Gulf of Aden. Ten scales indicate distance in four different kinds of miles, hours taken by caravans walking to Mecca, four different kinds of leagues, and giams (an Arabic maritime unit of measurement). D’Anville was an important French cartographer known for his scrupulous attention to detail and his commitment to accuracy. His method was to collect and compare as many sources of geographic information as possible and to correct and reissue maps as new information became available. He was appointed the first geographer to the king of France, Louis XV, in 1773, the same year that he was elected to the Academy of Sciences. His own personal collection of maps eventually totaled nearly 9,000 items. The map is a good impression printed on sturdy double-layered paper with full margins; it has some mold stains on the right edge of the image and centerline and light general soiling.

Last updated: November 3, 2015