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"Otlu Sulu Yol Var Mı?" The Role of Cartographic Intelligence in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Expansion
This paper discusses the pivotal role of military maps in the planning and execution of the Ottoman Empire's campaigns during the first half of the sixteenth century. By analyzing unpublished sixteenth-century cartographic materials, the study examines the strategic significance of these maps in facilitating the navigation of the massive and unwieldy Ottoman armies through challenging terrains, including deserts, mountain passes, and marshlands, to reach far-off destinations such as Tabriz, Cairo, Baghdad, and Vienna. The research highlights how the utilization of these maps enabled the campaign leadership to identify critical locations such as water sources, firewood, and populated zones, to access territories beyond their sphere of influence. Furthermore, I analyze how this creation of geographic intelligence was crucial in the success of Ottoman campaigns, even as it helped increase the state's knowledge of its territory. Overall, this research contributes to a deeper understanding of the role of military cartography in shaping Ottoman military strategy and territorial expansion during the early modern period.
Geographic Area
Ottoman Empire
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