That XVIII Century Romania Map Error  

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A while back, we looked at a map that placed Romania South of Bulgaria, and Bulgaria in Romania’s place, in a kind of “castling” or “rocada” (cf Romanian) of the two countries. A relatively newer map, picked up somewhere on Facebook (fb below in Sources), makes the same “mistake”. Are the quotes around the word mistake warranted?

Map of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, 1730sThe newer map, “Osmanlı Avrupası Haritası, 1730'lar” is dated 1730, while the older map, from the Romanian origins I, was dated 1601.

I first discussed this (newer) map with a friend a while back (more than 10 weeks ago), and I’m not sure whether the following is my friend’s explanation or a fragment I got from another source; I just know that I had saved the following as a draft.

Until the second half of the 19th century, Romania simply meant "land of the Romans" (Rhomaion in Greek), and it was used to refer to the European lands of the former Eastern Roman Empire as it had become Greek speaking about 1200 years before this map was printed. Interestingly, the former Asian lands of the above named empire were also referred by a derivative of Rome, namely Rum (i.e. Sultanate of Rum). The medieval Greeks referred to themselves only as Romans = Rumei up to the 19th century (the modern word for Greeks, Hellenes, meant pagan Greeks, and they were (and still are) quite Christian in faith and conviction) hence that region is also identified as Rumelia on some maps. The connection to the Aromanians and Romanians is just incidental, as they also were descendants of the (Latin speaking) citizens of the empire.

So, here’s the older explanation (also espoused by commenter Dragos Poghirc in the afore-linked article): it’s (A)romania.

Additionally, if we look closer, we notice that the rivers that seem to border the [A]Romania (i.e., the Romania of XVII-XVIII century) are quite similar to those further NW, creating that “fish-head” appearance, that could confuse an Ottoman scribe high on hashish. This “fish-head” is also an element used in the rendering of ZBIM, with its own map at

If you check out you might discover a warning – guess who put it there and why? Also, please leave it be and do not ask for it to be removed, it’s anthological and needs to be kept for historical purposes, much like the incorrect maps :)

Sources / More info: fb

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