One strange feature of our times is the use of the term Arabian Gulf, for what is the Persian Gulf, by Americans. The U.S. Navy has now ordered its sailors to use the Arabian Gulf term and is redrawing maps and manuals with the new reference. Besides being a calculated offense to Iranians, it flies in the face of so many things about America itself – including especially the term “America”!
You see the library of congress purchased (at great expense) Martin Waldseemuller’s Universalis Cosmorgraphis Map drawn in 1507.
Martin Waldseemuller, a German cartographer, along with Matthias Ringmann are both credited with the first recorded usage of the word America. In 1507, they drew a map called the “Universalis Cosmographia” in honor of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Waldseemuller produced a globular world map and a large 12-panel world wall map using the information from Columbus and Vespucci’s travels, both bearing the first use of the name “America” but in that map they also made clear reference to the Persian Gulf (Sinus Persicus).
The maps were accompanied by a book Cosmographiae Introductio, an introduction to cosmography. The book, first printed in the city of Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, includes in its second part, a translation to Latin of the Quattuor Americi Vespuccij navigationes (Four Voyages of Americo Vespucci).
Despite later revisions, 1,000 copies of the original world maps were distributed, and the original naming suggestion took hold. While North America was still called Indies in documents for some time, it was eventually called America as well.
The wall map was lost for a long time, but a copy was found in Schloss Wolfegg in southern Germany by Joseph Fischer in 1901. It is still the only copy known to survive, and it was purchased by the United States Library of Congress in May 2003, after an agreement was reached in 2001. Five copies of the globular map survive in the form of “gores”: printed maps that were intended to be cut out and pasted onto a wooden globe. Only one of these lies in the Americas today, residing at the James Ford Bell Library University of Minnesota.
America’s military leadership don’t have to take my word for it, a quick trip to the Library of Congress (the museum section) would inform Americans otherwise. It’s right next to the Supreme Court, and behind Congress itself. I recently visited the Museum and took pictures of the Waldseemuller maps on display on my cell phone (attached). But to simply state a key fact: “if America is America, then the Persian Gulf is the Persian Gulf”. If Waldeseemuller’s map is the ‘right’ reference for the naming of America, then surely it also establishes the name for the Persian Gulf.
But perhaps we should not take Waldseemuller’s map as the sole determinant. Maybe, the library of congress has other maps that are useful here. Let’s see, why don’t we walk to the Air and Space museum and see how NASA references America and for that matter the Persian Gulf?
Well, right there in the global navigation exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space museum, we find Phillip Eckebrecht’s 1630 map of the world. This map, refers to America. It also, by the way, was the first to reference “Australia”. It also references the Persian Gulf. So, if Australia is Australia, then surely the Persian Gulf is the Persian Gulf! No?
This map was commissioned by Johann Kepler for his book Tabulae Rudolphinae, conceived and drawn by Philip Eckebrecht, and engraved by J.P. Walsh in 1630.
However, all copies must have been issued considerably later, certainly not before 1658 when the Emperor Leopold to whom the map is dedicated came to the throne. The map shows the Dutch discoveries in Australia, combining the discoveries of Hartog, in 1616, and Houtman, in 1619, on the west coast, and those of Carstenz. and Colsten along the northern coast, in 1623. If the map was designed c. 1630 then it was one of the earliest maps to show the Dutch discoveries in Australia.
This, my friends, makes it not one but two maps on prominent display in U.S. government museums as important maps of the globe … referencing America!
Hey, but don’t take Waldseemuller or Ekebrecht’s word for it. After all, what do 16 or 17th century maps have to do with today – right? We’re in the 21st century, things can change! And supposedly, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis see Iran as their great enemy so they are buying off American politicians and media and ‘telling’ the U.S. Navy what to call the Persian Gulf!
Well interestingly, right inside the Library of Congress we have the original Bartholomew map with notations that was used to ‘create’ the region that is now the state of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Sultanates after the Ottomans were defeated – after the 1st world war!
And wow, it ALSO refers to the Persian Gulf as the Persian Gulf! I mean there was NO Saudi Arabia, No United Arab Emirates, No Israel …. But there was a Persian Gulf!!
Batholomew by the way was no ‘ordinary’ map publisher. The family have been in the map business for centuries.
George Bartholomew (8 January 1784 – 23 October 1871, active from 1797) worked as an engraver for Daniel Lizars in Edinburgh. His son, John Bartholomew Senior (1805 – 9 April 1861), began working independently in about 1826, founding the firm that bears his name. Notable work included Black’s General Atlas of 1846.
John Bartholomew Junior (1831–1893) and his son John George Bartholomew (1860–1920) brought the firm to prominence. J.G. Bartholomew made the firm a publisher of its own works, rather than a producer of maps for other firms. John (Ian) Bartholomew (1890–1962) oversaw the Times Survey Atlas of the World (1922) and later the Mid-Century Edition of the Times Atlas of the World (1955–60). They still publish maps today and are part of the “Murdoch” publishing empire!
Yes, these maps are prominent in the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. Maybe America’s Military leadership need to pay the Library a visit. Next time they visit congress, they can jump across the street and get a geography lesson or two. Or have they really sold their souls to Israel, the Saudis or Emiratis?
And, if these maps are wrong and are misinforming the public with incorrect references, then perhaps Iran too should stop referencing America as “America”! Or Australia as “Australia”.
Perhaps out of respect for the indigenous people that roamed the American continent centuries ago (who by the way are offended by European terms like: Indians or Native Americans) who were killed, lied to, cheated, and had their lands stolen by Europeans, Iranians should start referring to the continent by it’s indigenous term “Turtle Island”. This is what it was called for over 10,000 years! And call Americans now residing on Turtle Island as the Turtles!
Iranians have more class than European Americans, Israelis, Saudis or Emiratis. You see, Iranians can sit tight knowing that they have an inscription at the United Nations that is over 2000 years old – where Iranian leaders proudly declared human rights as Universal, and encouraged freedom of faith, and expression. Iranians did not have to lie, cheat, kill or steal to lay claim to their lands. Iranians never handed blankets imbibed with small pox to kill off their indigenous populations! Iranians didn’t need the Brits to make up their country. And Iranians have retained their decency, despite having been invaded, and undermined by others. Iran has always been Iran!!
The U.S. needs to have more respect for Iran and Iranians … and more generally more respect for people of other faiths, ethnicity, and persuasions. A little humility and decency would go a long way in establishing peace in this world. The West has a lot to be ashamed of, why try to ‘offend’ others on purpose? What can really be achieved by this? Is America now so weak, and poor that its leaders have to sell their souls like this? Does the U.S. really think this is a good way to win friends and influence others? The puppet dictatorships and regimes around the Persian Gulf do not have sustainable futures in their current political form, democracy will take hold and these dictators will be gone. Why align with dictators? It makes no sense.