Symposium: Mapping the World: From Ancient Babylon to the Ottoman Empire

December 8, 2007
9:30 AM–4 PM
Oriental Institute

Contact: Museum Education Office
(773) 702-9507

Carved on stone or inscribed in clay, the earliest maps appeared thousands of years ago, marking the beginning of humankind’s quest to understand and record our place in the world. This day-long symposium invites you to join renowned scholars on a unique journey through space and time to explore the ways maps from ancient, classical, and Ottoman times chronicle the rise of geographic awareness, the advancement of scientific knowledge, the conquests of kings, and the brilliant artistry and imagination of mapmakers.

Discover the oldest known map of the world, depicted on a clay tablet from ancient Babylon. Learn the history of way finding tools that range from roadmaps for ancient Roman soldiers to sea charts for merchant explorers to medieval maps for Arab pilgrims winding their way to Mecca. Maps of the Ottoman Empire from 1500–1750 will be a special feature, in conjunction with “European Cartographers and the Ottoman World,” a major new exhibit on view at the Oriental Institute. See how exploration and interaction with the Ottoman Empire introduced Europeans to lands that were new and exotic to their eyes. Examine how this led to both realistic and highly imaginative maps that shaped western perceptions of the Middle East in ways that still resonate today.

Symposium speakers include:

  • Clifford Ando, Professor of Classics, University of Chicago
  • Geoff Emberling, Director, Oriental Institute Museum
  • M. Pinar Emirlioglu, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Pittsburgh
  • Donald Whitcomb, Research Associate, Oriental Institute; Associate Professor of Islamic and Medieval Archaeology, University of Chicago


$54 OI members/$64 non-members.
Special rate for middle school and high school teachers: $15*

*There are a limited number of free spaces for teachers on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call (773) 702-9507 to register for one of these spaces.

Pre-registration is required. Call (773) 702-9507 or register online.

Program includes packet of materials, morning coffee, closing reception, and viewing of “European Cartographers and the Ottoman World.” Optional box lunches can be ordered by calling Oriental Institute Museum Education at (773) 702-9507.

Presented in partnership with Festival of Maps Chicago, a citywide celebration of discoveries and way finding from ancient to modern times. Teacher discounts supported by the Replogle Foundation and the Geographic Society of Chicago.

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact the event sponsor for assistance.

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