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Near East

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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.

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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.

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Available Books

Related Images

Image Name
The Land of Israel - Title Page (1865)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives (1855)
Promenades Pittoresques dans Constantinople Atlas - I. Vue de la partie méridionale de Constantinople (1817)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - The Island of Philae by Sunset (1855)
Interesting Views in Turkey - Ponte Piccolo (1819)
Byzantine Architecture - The Church of St. Demetrius at Thessalonica - Elevation of the Narthex (1864)
Egypt, Painted and Described - A Desert Scout (1902)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Crater in the Island of Stromboli (1810)
The Home of Fadeless Splendour or, Palestine of Today - Nazareth in its Setting (1921)
Journal of a Tour in the Levant Vol. 2 - Convent of Mount Sinai (1820)
Egypt, Painted and Described - A Dusty Day at the Tombs of the Khalifs (1902)
The Land of Midian (Revisited) Vol. 2 - Title Page (1879)
From Damascus to Palmyra - The Small Temple, Baalbek (1908)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Amor Bon Abdi Seyat and Sheik Bochlega (1864)
The Dardanelles : Colour Sketches from Gallipoli - H.M.S. Sarnia Landing Troops in Suvla Bay (1915)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Sheet Music (1714)
Voyage Pittoresque a Travers l'Isthme de Suez - Les bains de mer et la flottille sur le lac Timsah (Ismailia) (1870)
Byzantine Architecture - Plan of Anazarbus (1864)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Hindoo Temple, Benares (1835)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Ramla, Ancient Arimathea (1855)
Egypt, Painted and Described - The Colossi of Thebes - Moonrise (1902)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Site of the House of Naaman the Syrian, Damascus (1908)
The Costume of Turkey - Bostandji Bachi (1802)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Thubare, A Small Harbour of the Arabian Coast, Upper Part of the Red Sea (1835)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 2 - Back Cover (1809)
Views in Egypt - View of the Nilometer (1801)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Front Cover (1855)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Part of Jerusalem (1810)
Voyage a Athenes et a Constantinopole - Le Temple de Jupiter Olympien et l'Acropolis d'Athenes (1825)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 2 - Cufic Tomb-Stone at Dhalac [I] (1809)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Range of Tombs in the Northern Necropolis of Cyrene (1864)
Egypt, Painted and Described - Gibel Kasr-es-Saad (1902)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Plan of Cyrene [II] (1864)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 1 - Mirza en robe de Ceremonie (1825)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Chancel of the Church of St. Helena, Bethlehem (1855)
Interesting Views in Turkey - Aqueduct near Belgrade (1819)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Bridge over the Litany, Jisr el Kardeli (1908)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 1 - View of Sandy Bay, St. Helena (1809)
The Rob Roy on the Jordan - Country of the Gergesenes View from Kerak (1869)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Temple of Wady Saboua, Nubia (1855)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Female Bust of Roman Period (1864)
A Pilgrimage to Egypt - British Troops Drilling Near the Great Pyramids (1897)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 2 - Chart of the Environs of Valentia Island (1809)
Voyage a Athenes et a Constantinopole - Palicare de la Selleide (1825)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Baalbec, Western Portico (1855)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - Great Chamber in the second pyramid of Ghizeh. Discovered by G. Belzoni, 1818 (1820)
Scenes in the East - Nazareth (1870)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Upper Fountain of Siloam - Valley of Jehoshaphat (1855)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Aphrodite and Female Torso (1864)
The Banks of the Nile - The Second Cataract (1913)
Constantinople Painted and Described - A Whirling Dervish (1906)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - From the tomb of the kings at Thebes, discovered by G. Belzoni (1820)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - No. 26. Vue du Champ des Morts, près de Péra (1819)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Joseph's Hall (1809)
Views in the Ottoman Empire - Women of Caramania (1803)
Byzantine Architecture - Temple of Portumnus at Ostia - Elevation and Section (1864)
The Costume of Turkey - A Tartar (1802)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Mosque of Sultan Achmet (1810)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - Plan de la ville de Constantinople et de ses faubourgs (1819)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Cyrene Inscriptions [VI] (1864)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - Approach to Mount Sinai (1855)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - No. 34. Vue des anciens châteaux d'Europe et d'Asie, sur le point le plus étroit du Bosphore (1819)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Tchingui Danseur Turc (1714)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 1 - Ruins of a Bridge, Across the Cauveri (1809)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Temple of Venus, Baalbek (1908)
The Oriental Album - Gypsy Fortune Telling (1862)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 1 - Cheick al Islam (Grand Pretre de Perse) (1825)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Mosque at Latachia (1810)
Recueil de Cent Estampes Representant Differentes Nations du Levant - Arabe du Desert (1714)
Byzantine Architecture - The Church of St. Demetrius at Thessalonica - Longitudinal and Transverse Sections (1864)
A Journey from London to Persepolis - Tombs of the Kings, Nakchi Rustum (1865)
Voyage Pittoresque a Travers l'Isthme de Suez - Vue de Kantara (1870)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Illustrated Title Page (1835)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Genater, the Capital of Agowma (1809)
Constantinople Painted and Described - Stamboul Beggar (1906)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - City of Baccus on the Lake Moeris (1820)
Voyages and Travels to India, Ceylon, the Red Sea, Abyssinia, and Egypt Vol. 3 - Obelisk at Axum (1809)
A Journey from London to Persepolis - Schamyl (1865)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - From the tombs of kings at Thebes, discovered by G. Belzoni (1820)
Histoire de l'Egypte sous le Gouvernement de Mohammed-Aly [Atlas] - Back Cover (1823)
Plates Illustrative of the Researches and Operations of G. Belzoni - View of the interior of the temple of Carnak (1820)
The Military Costume of Turkey - Title Page (1818)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Seller of Water (1908)
History of the Recent Discoveries at Cyrene - Interior of a Tomb Cut in the Side of a Quarry in the Northern Necropolis (1864)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - General View of Cairo from the West (1855)
The Land of Midian (Revisited) Vol. 2 - Map of the Land of Midian (1879)
The Costume of Turkey - Two Janissaries in their Dress of Ceremony (1802)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 5 & 6 - The Nilometer on the Isle of Rhoda, Cairo (1855)
Views in Egypt - Exterior view of the Ancient Wall of Alexandria, with Cleopatra's Needle (1801)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 3 & 4 - The Ravine, Petra (1855)
Voyage en Perse Vol. 1 - Vue exterieure d'un Caravanserai forain (1825)
Voyage Pittoresque de Constantinople et des Rives du Bosphore Vol. 2 - No. 43. Fontaine de Sari-Yéri, près de Buyuk-Déré (1819)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - St. Jean d'Acre, from the Sea (1855)
The Holy Land : Syria, Idumea, Arabia, Egypt & Nubia Vols. 1 & 2 - Jenin, Ancient Jezreel (1855)
Egypt, Painted and Described - The First Cataract (1902)
From Damascus to Palmyra - Straight Street, Damascus (1908)
Voyage des Souverains du Canal du Suez - Bal au Palais Dismailia (1870)
Views in India, China, and on the Shores of the Red Sea - Ruins about the Taj Mahal, Agra (1835)
Promenades Pittoresques dans Constantinople Atlas - Front Cover (1817)
Views in the Ottoman Dominions - Theatre at Ephesus (1810)

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)

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