History Archive Icon

History Archive

Near East

Collections > Regions > Near East Collection

Near East Collection

History Archive - Near East Collection

The Near East is a geographical term that roughly encompasses a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia, Turkey (both Asian and European), and Egypt (which is mostly in North Africa). Despite having varying definitions within different academic circles, the term was originally applied to the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire.

In about the middle of the 19th century Near East came into use to describe that part of the east closest to Europe. The term Far East appeared contemporaneously meaning Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam. Near East applied to what had been mainly known as the Levant, which was in the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Porte, or government. Those who used the term had little choice about its meaning. They could not set foot on most of the shores of the southern and central Mediterranean from the Gulf of Sidra to Albania without permits from the Ottoman Empire.

Some regions beyond the Ottoman Porte were included. One was North Africa west of Egypt. It was occupied by piratical kingdoms of the Barbary Coast, de facto-independent since the 18th century, formerly part of the empire at its apogee. Iran was included because it could not easily be reached except through the Ottoman Empire or neighboring Russia. In the 1890s the term tended to focus on the conflicts in the Balkan states and Armenia. The demise of "the sick man of Europe" left considerable confusion as to what was to be meant by "Near East". It is now generally used only in historical contexts, to describe the countries of Western Asia from the Mediterranean to (or including) Iran. There is, in short, no universally-understood fixed inventory of nations, languages or historical assets defined to be in it.

+ Read More

At the beginning of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire included all of the Balkan Peninsula south to the southern edge of the Hungarian Plain, but by 1914 had lost all of it except Constantinople and Eastern Thrace to the rise of nationalist Balkan states, which saw the independence of Greece, Serbia, the Danubian Principalities and Bulgaria. Up until 1912, the Ottomans retained a band of territory including Albania, Macedonia and Southern Thrace, which were lost in the two Balkan Wars of 1912-13.

The Ottoman Empire, believed to be about to collapse, was portrayed in the press as the "sick man of Europe". The Balkan states, with the partial exception of Bosnia and Albania, were primarily Christian, as was the majority of Lebanon. Starting in 1894, the Ottomans struck at the Armenians on the explicit grounds that they were a non-Muslim people and as such were a potential threat to the Muslim empire within which they resided.

The Hamidian Massacres aroused the indignation of the entire Christian world. In the United States the now aging Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, leaped into the war of words and joined the Red Cross. Relations of minorities within the Ottoman Empire and the disposition of former Ottoman lands became known as the "Eastern Question", as the Ottomans were on the east of Europe.

Regional Sub-Divisions

Available Books

Related Images

Image Name
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Tch - Oglan Page destine pour le service du Grand (1714)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - The Silk-Mercers' Bazaar of El Gooreyeh, Cairo (1855)
A Journey from London to Persepolis - Schamyl (1865)
Views in the Ottoman Empire - Ruins of the Grand Aqueduct of ancient Cathage (1803)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Turkish Encampment (1810)
The Oriental Album - Baghdad Merchant (Travelling) (1862)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Monument on the Coast of Syria (1810)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Hazorta Family (1809)
Views in Palestine - Tomb in the Valley of Jehosophat (1804)
Byzantine Architecture - The Church of St. Sophia at Trebizond - Ground Plan (1864)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Title Page - Volume II (1835)
Voyage a Athenes et a Constantinopole - Le Temple de Thesee a Athenes (1825)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Ascent to the Summit of Sinai (1855)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Chapel of Elijah, Mount Sinai (1855)
Byzantine Architecture - The Bapistry at St. Maurice at Aix (1864)
Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land - The Gate of David, Jerusalem (1908)
Views in Egypt - An Egyptian Bey (1801)
The Land of Midian (Revisited) Vol. 1 - Tomb of the Kings, Maghair Shu'Ayb (1879)
Views in Egypt - An Egyptian Fair at Kafr Radoin (1801)
Palestine Illustrated - Temple Corner (1888)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Cyrene - Plan of a Temple to the S.W. of the Temple of Bacchus (1864)
Views in Egypt - A Mamaluke Exercising (1801)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Part of Abyssinia (1809)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Armenien de Perse (1714)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Femme Suive en habit de ceremonie (1714)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - The King's Seat at Axum (1809)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - Entrance of the 2nd pyramid of Ghizeh discovered and opened by G. Belzoni, 2nd March 1818 (1820)
The Dardanelles : Colour Sketches from Gallipoli - Submarine E2 Returning from the Sea of Marmora (1915)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Bab Sherki, Damascus (1908)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Monument between Tripoli and Tortosa (1810)
Picturesque Scenery in the Holy Land and Syria - The Grand Vizier's Tent (1823)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Temple of Dakke, in Nubia (1855)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Rocky Country behind Ma'alula. From a Photograph (1908)
Byzantine Architecture - Elevation and Plan of the Columns of the Temple of Bacchus (1864)
Under the Syrian Sun Vol. 1 - South Peristyle of the Temple of Jupiter (1907)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - Interview with Mehmet Ali in His Palace at Alexandria (1855)
The Tomb of Alexander - Coin of Alexander from a Silver Tetradrachm of Lysimachus (1805)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Inscription Found at Acum (1809)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - No. 10. Intérieur d'une partie du harem du Grand-Seigneur (1819)
Egypt, Painted and Described - In the Land of Goshen - Evening (1902)
Constantinople Painted and Described - A Step Street (1906)
Byzantine Architecture - The Mosque of Orta Hissar, Trebizond - Plan (1864)
Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land - Ruins of Jerash, Looking West - Propylaeum and Temple Terrace (1908)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Crater in the Island of Volcano (1810)
Byzantine Architecture - View of the Temple of Augustus at Vienne (1864)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Plan of Cyrene [I] (1864)
The Dardanelles : Colour Sketches from Gallipoli - Looking Towards the Village of Anafarta (1915)
Journal of a Tour in the Levant Vol. 2 - Tombs in Cairo [I] (1820)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - Back Cover (1819)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - El Deir, Petra (1855)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Temple of Edfou, Ancient Apollinopolis, Upper Egypt (1855)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Peik, Page du Grand Seigneur, qui le suit a pied quand (1714)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 2 - Ceremonie des funerailles persanes (1825)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Pitesti (1810)
Picturesque Scenery in the Holy Land and Syria - Daniel Bryan, a Sailor (1823)
Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land - Title Page (1908)
Promenades Pittoresques dans Constantinople Atlas - Front Cover (1817)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - The Immersion of the Pilgrims in the Jordan (1855)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - 1. A Small Obelisk, 2. Pedestals or Altars, 3. A Large Altar near the Square, 4. The Pedestal of a Fallen Obelisk, 5. A Detached Stone in the Church Yard (1809)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Arab Encampment between Homs and Palmyra (1908)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - Minaret of the Mosque El Rhamree (1855)
Under the Syrian Sun Vol. 2 - Book Display (1907)
Voyage a Athenes et a Constantinopole - Un Boucher Albanis a Athenes (1825)
Scenes in the East - Jericho from the S.W. (1870)
The Military Costume of Turkey - Cavalry (1818)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Fille de Bulgarie (1714)
Palestine Illustrated - Bethany (1888)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - The Acropolis (Kusr Faron), Lower End of the Valley (1855)
The Costume of Turkey - A Musician belonging to the Grand Signior (1802)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Convent of St. Saba (1855)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 2 - Dame curde a la promenade (1825)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Cyrene Inscriptions [VI] (1864)
Constantinople Painted and Described - In the Grand Bazaar (1906)
Below the Cataracts - Title Page (1907)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Plan of the Ruins of Axum (1809)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Entrance to the Tomb of the Kings (1855)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Soldat Albanois (1714)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - The Entrance to the Citadel of Jerusalem (1855)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Cootub Minar, Delhi (1835)
Egypt, Painted and Described - A Desert Courier (1902)
Four Months in a Dahabeeh - The Temple of Dom Ombo and the Dahabeeh Cairo (1863)
The Land of Israel - Jebel Usdum (The Salt Mountain), South End of the Dead Sea (1865)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 2 - View of the Village in Valentia (1809)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 1 - View of the Besselely Gaut (1809)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Sarcophagus from the Tombs of the Kings (1810)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Female Bust of Roman Period (1864)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Pierce in his Abyssinian Dress, A Young Gall of High Rank (1809)
Egyptian Sepulchres and Syrian Shrines Vol. 1 - Title Page (1862)
The Costume of Turkey - A Sultana, or Odalisk (1802)
Constantinople Painted and Described - Golden Horn, early Morning (1906)
The Oriental Album - Albanian Guard (1862)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 1 - Persan se promenant a cheval en fumant (1825)
Voyage a Athenes et a Constantinopole - Un Janissaire du Palais et un Bostangi (1825)
Out-of-Doors in the Holy Land - A Small Bazaar in Damascus (1908)
The Dardanelles : Colour Sketches from Gallipoli - Motor Lighters (1915)
Journal of a Tour in the Levant Vol. 2 - Arab Woman of Cairo (1820)
Egypt, Painted and Described - A Desert Scout (1902)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - View of the interior of the temple of Carnak (1820)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - No. 16. Vue de Kara-Aghatch, au fond du port (1819)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - General View of One of the Hills in the Northern Necropolis of Cyrene (1864)

Related Maps

Map Name
Journal of a Tour in the Levant Vol. 1 - Map of Greece and the Archipelago (1820)
Journal of a Tour in the Levant Vol. 3 - Map of the Countries on the East Coast of the Mediterranean Sea (1820)
Palestine Illustrated - Modern Palestine (1888)
Palestine Illustrated - The Central Ridge of Palestine (1888)
Palestine Illustrated - The City of Jerusalem (Modern) (1888)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 2 - Carte de la Perse Pour le Voyage du Colonel G Dourville 1819 (1825)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Cyrenaica Corrected from the Surveys of Capt's Smyth, Beechy and Spratt (1864)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Cyrenaica Corrected from the Surveys of Capt's Smyth, Beechy and Spratt (1864)
Voyage a l'Oasis de Syouah - Carte de l'Oasis de Syouah (1823)
The Land of Midian (Revisited) Vol. 2 - Map of the Land of Midian (1879)
The Dead Sea, a New Route to India Vol. 1 - Map of Palestine with Portions of Syria (1855)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Map to Illustrate Mr. Robert's Route (1855)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - Map of the Valley of the Nile (1855)
A Pilgrimage to Egypt - Egypt Map (1897)
A Pilgrimage to Egypt - Sketch Map of Lower Egypt (1897)
A Visit to the Suez Canal - Sketch Map of the Suez Canal (1866)
The Land of Israel - Routes in the Holy Land by the Rev'd H. B. Tristram (1865)
The Land of Israel - The Dead Sea to Illustrate the Routes and Observations of the Rev'd H. B. Tristram (1865)

Regions

View All Regions