The first geology book published by the Ottomans and
what it teaches on the state of geology in the Ottoman Empire
A. M. Celâl Şengör
The first independent book in Turkish on geology published in the Ottoman Empire was İlm-i Tabakatü'l Arz (Istanbul, 1853). It was a translation made from the Arabic of a popular book originally published in French in Paris by Nérée Boubée under the title Geologie Populaire à la Portée de Tout le Monde Appliquée à l'Agriculture et à l'Industrie (Paris 1833). The great importance placed on this book by the Ottoman dignitaries, shows that although there was an enthusiasm for Western science among the administrators and the intelligentsia, they were unaware of the scientific developments in geology in Europe. The present paper focuses on the Turkish translation of Géologie Populaire made by Ali Fethi Efendi from Ali Fayid's Arabic translation titled Al-Aqwâl al-Murdiya fî 'ilm Bunyat al-Kura al-Ardiyya (Boulaque, 1842). An analysis of the Turkish translation shows that all technical terms were borrowed from the source text in Arabic. The artificially elaborate Ottoman constructions in the text, not reflecting the simplicity and the elegance of the original, may have been one obstacle in its increase of popularity among Turkish readers. This translation is a particular case pointing out that the introduction of modern sciences to Turkey did not only occur through direct translation from European textbooks but through their popularized versions in Arabic translations as well. Although printed at the imperial printing house with the permission of Sultan Abdülmecid I, the printing expenses were covered by the translator himself, a fact assessing the individualistic character of the translation project.
Key words: Geology, history of geology, İlm-i Tabakatü'l Arz, Nérée Boubée, Mehmed Ali Fethi Efendi, Ahmed Fayid, Natural Sciences in the Ottoman Empire.