The Ottoman School of Naval Engineering:
from 'Geometry Room' to Naval Academy (1775-1845)
Ottoman interest in Europe which started in early 18th century was part of a modernization process that continued until the end of the Empire in early 20th century. From the second half of the 18th century onwards, Ottomans showed an increasing interest in European science and technology which were essential in the foundation of modern educational institutions in addition to the medreses, the classical Islamic educational and scientific institutions.
Following Ottoman defeats against European armies, the need arose to modernize the Ottoman military organization and the traditional art of warfare. The efforts to modernize the military started with the introduction of modern teaching of mathematical sciences in the army. A school of mathematics, namely Hendesehâne (lit. Geometry Room) was established in the imperial shipyards in Istanbul in 29th April 1775 under the leadership of the French officer Baron de Tott. This school was officially named the Imperial School of Naval Engineering (Mühendishâne-i Bahrî-i Hümayun) in 1806.
By founding a school of naval engineering, the Ottoman State aimed to teach the navy officers the modern sciences and the new techniques necessary for modernizing the Ottoman navy. The establishment of the school was a cornerstone in the Ottoman educational and scientific life. Athough it carried some influences of the classical Ottoman educational institutions, it differed in regard to its curricula and instruction. Thus, the system employed in the Imperial School of Naval Engineering was a combination of the Ottoman and European systems.
Key words: Ottoman naval engineering, Geometry Room, Ottoman State Shipyards, Ottoman Imperial School of Naval Engineering, Navy School, Ottoman modernization, history of science and education in Turkey, Jean-Jacques Sébastian Le Roy, Jacques Balthasar le Brun; Anahtar kelimeler: Osmanlılarda deniz mühendisliği, Tersâne-i Amire Hendesehânesi, Mühendishâne-i Bahrî-i Hümayun, Bahriye Mektebi, Osmanlılarda yenileşme hareketleri, Türk bilim ve eğitim tarihi, Jean-Jacques Sébastian Le Roy, Jacques Balthasar Le Brun.