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Did Alexander the Great Discover America? Debating Space and Time in Renaissance Istanbul

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 September 2019

Giancarlo Casale*
Affiliation:
University of Minnesota / European University Institute

Abstract

Following the first European voyages of exploration to the New World, several Ottoman authors debated whether Alexander the Great may have already known of the American continent in classical antiquity. By exploring the contours of this previously unstudied intra-Ottoman debate, the present article challenges the prevailing scholarly view that sixteenth-century Ottoman writings about the Americas were at best frivolous and at worst incoherent. Instead, these texts engaged with many of the same questions provoked by the discoveries in contemporary Europe, while at the same time intersecting with the most profound and contested concerns of Ottoman statecraft.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Renaissance Society of America 2019 

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Footnotes

Research for this article was supported by a fellowship from Villa I Tatti, The Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. Previous versions were presented at the Collège de France, in Paris; the Central European University's Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, in Budapest; the Kunsthistorisches Institut, in Florence; and the Seminar for Medieval and Early Modern Art History at Concordia University, in Montreal.

References

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Erickson, Kyle, Stoneman, Richard, and Netton, Ian, eds. The Alexander Romance in Persia and the East. Groningen: Barkhuis, 2012.Google Scholar
Eryılmaz, Fatma Sinem. “The Şehnamecis of Sultan Süleyman: ‘Arifi and Eflatun and Their Dynastic Project.” PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2010.Google Scholar
Fetvacı, Emine. Picturing History at the Ottoman Court. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013.Google Scholar
Finlay, Robert. “Prophecy and Politics in Istanbul: Charles V, Sultan Suleyman, and the Habsburg Embassy of 1533–1534.” Journal of Early Modern History 2.1 (1998): 131.Google Scholar
Fleischer, Cornell. Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali, 1541–1600. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.Google Scholar
Gaullier-Bougassas, Catherine. La fascination pour Alexandre le Grand dans les littératures européennes (Xe–XVIe siècles), Réinventions d'un mythe. 4 vols. Turnhout: Brepols, 2014.Google Scholar
Goodrich, Thomas. “Atlas-ı Hümāyūn: A Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Maritime Atlas Discovered in 1984.” Archivium Ottomanicum 10 (1985): 84101.Google Scholar
Goodrich, Thomas. “The Earliest Ottoman Maritime Atlas: The Walters Deniz Atlası.” Archivum Ottomanicum 11 (1986): 2550.Google Scholar
Goodrich, Thomas. The Ottoman Turks and the New World: A Study of Tarih-i Hind-i Garbi and Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Americana. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1990.Google Scholar
Grafton, Anthony. New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.Google Scholar
Hagen, Gottfried. “Kâtib Çelebi and Târîh-i Hind-i Garbî.” Güney-doğu Avrupa Araştırmaları 12 (1982–98): 101–15.Google Scholar
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Hasse, Dag Nikolaus. Success and Suppression: Arabic Sciences and Philosophy in the Renaissance. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
Horodowich, Elizabeth. The Venetian Discovery of America: Geographic Imagination in the Age of Encounters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018.Google Scholar
Ibn al-Wardī, Sirāj al-Dīn. Ḫaridatu'l-ʿÂjā’ib wa Farīdatu'l-Ġarā’ib. Cairo: Mustafa al-Bābī al-Ḥalabī wa-Awlādih, 1939/H.1358.Google Scholar
İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin. Osmanlı Coğrafya Literatürü Tarihi. Istanbul: IRCICA, 2000.Google Scholar
Imber, Colin. Ebu'S-Su‛ud: The Islamic Legal Tradition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
Kastritsis, Dimitri. “The Trebizond Alexander Romance: The Ottoman Fate of a Fourteenth-Century Illustrated Byzantine Manuscript.” Journal of Turkish Studies 36 (2011): 103–31.Google Scholar
Çelebi, Katip. Kitāb-ı Cihān-nümā li'Kātip Çelebi. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2009.Google Scholar
Koraev, Timur K.Un Géographe Arabe Stambouliote: À la recherche du contexte intellectuel de l’Awdah al-Masālik ilā Maʿrifat al-Buldān wa-l-Mamālik de Sipāhī-zāde.” Turcica 46 (2015): 113–52.Google Scholar
Kuru, Selim. “The Literature of Rūm.” In The Cambridge History of Turkey, ed. Fleet, Kate and Faroqhi, Suraiya, 548–92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
Lewis, Bernard. The Muslim Discovery of Europe. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982.Google Scholar
McIntosh, Gregory. The Piri Reis Map of 1513. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2000.Google Scholar
Necipoğlu, Gülru. “Süleyman the Magnificent and the Representation of Power in the Context of Ottoman-Hapsburg-Papal Rivalry.” Art Bulletin 71.3 (1989): 401–27.Google Scholar
Necipoğlu, Gülru. “A Kanun for the State, a Canon for the Arts: Conceptualizing the Classical Synthesis of Ottoman Art and Architecture.” In Soliman le Magnifique et son Temps, ed. Veinstein, Gilles, 195216. Paris: La Documentation Française, 1992.Google Scholar
Pinto, Karen. “Searchin’ His Eyes, Lookin’ for Traces: Piri Reis’ World Map of 1513 and Its Islamic Iconographic Connections (A Reading through Bağdat 334 and Proust).” Journal of Ottoman Studies 39.1 (2012): 6394.Google Scholar
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