Date: May 2015
Creator: Chavez, Miguel Angel
Description: The formation of state borders is often told through the history of war and diplomacy. What is neglected is the tale of how borders of seemingly peaceful and long-extant places were set. In drawing Egypt’s borders, nineteenth-century cartographers were drawing upon a well of knowledge that stretched back into antiquity. Relying on the works of Greco-Roman writers and the Bible itself, cartographers and explorers used the authority of these works to make sense of unfamiliar lands, regardless of any current circumstances. The border with Palestine was determined through the usage of the Old Testament, while classical scholars like Herodotus and Ptolemy set the southern border at the Cataracts. The ancient cartography of Rome was overlaid upon the Egypt of Muhammad Ali. Given the increasing importance Egypt had to the burgeoning British Empire of the nineteenth century, how did this mesh with the influences informing cartographical representations of Egypt? This study argues that the imagined spaces created by Western cartographers informed the trajectory of Britain’s eventual conquest of Egypt. While receding as geopolitical concerns took hold, the classical and biblical influences were nonetheless part of a larger trend of Orientalism that colored the way Westerners interacted with and treated the people ...
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries