For centuries, Egyptian civilization has been at the origin of the story we tell about the West. But Charles Bonnet’s archaeological excavations have unearthed extraordinary sites in modern Sudan that challenge this notion and compel us to look to black Africa and the Nubian Kingdom of Kush, where a highly civilized state existed 2500–1500 BCE.
Before the time of Napoleon, the most ambitious effort to explore and map the Nile was undertaken by the Ottomans, as attested by two monumental documents: an elaborate map, with 475 rubrics, and a lengthy travel account. Both were achieved at about the same time—c. 1685—and both by the same man.
Evliya Çelebi’s account of his Nile journeys, in the tenth volume of his Book of Travels (Seyahatname), has been known to the scholarly world since 1938, when that volume was first published. The map, held in the Vatican Library, has been studied since at least 1949. Numerous new critical editions of both the map and the text have been published over the years, each expounding upon the last in an attempt to reach a definitive version. The Ottoman Explorations of the Nile provides a more accurate translation of the original travel account. Furthermore, the maps themselves are reproduced in greater detail and vivid color, and there are more cross-references to the text than in any previous edition. This volume gives equal weight and attention to the two parts that make up this extraordinary historical document, allowing readers to study the map or the text independently, while also using each to elucidate and accentuate the details of the other.