Rare Early Appearance of the First Name for the Modern Sate of Qatar
Finely engraved map of the Persian Gulf, from Jacques Nicolas Bellin's Le Petit Atlas Maritime Recueti de Cartes et Plans des Quatre Parlies du Monde en Cinq Volumes, first published in Paris in 1764.
Names the following locations on the Gulf: el Katif, Isle Baharem, Isles Samaca, Hims, Kalt, Catura, Ras-Ollima, Calba, Isle Zara, Julfar, and Pagode.
The name Katara, Catara or Catura is the earliest recorded name for the area around the modern state of Qatar.
The name "Catara" began appearing as a name for the Qatar Peninsula in geographic and historical maps in about 150 A.D by the Alexandrian geographer Claudius Ptolemaeus in 150 AD. The name also appeared in the Atlas of the History of Islam. The town appeared northwest of Gerra or near it, and to the west of the town of Cadara.
The use of the name Catara or Katara was largely abandoned until the 18th Century, when it began to re-appear on printed maps.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was among the most important mapmakers of the eighteenth century. In 1721, at only the age of 18, he was appointed Hydrographer to the French Navy. In August 1741, he became the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine (the French Hydrographic Office) and was named Official Hydrographer of the French King.
During his term as Official Hydrographer, the Dépôt was the one of the most active centers for the production of sea charts and maps in Europe. Their output included a folio-format sea atlas of France, the Neptune Francois. He also produced a number of sea atlases of the world, including the Atlas Maritime and the Hydrographie Francaise. These gained fame and distinction all over Europe and were republished throughout the eighteenth and even in the nineteenth century.
Bellin also produced smaller format maps such as the 1764 Petit Atlas Maritime, containing 580 finely-detailed charts. He also contributed a number of maps for the 15-volume Histoire Generale des Voyages of Antoine François Prévost.
Bellin set a very high standard of workmanship and accuracy, cementing France's leading role in European cartography and geography during this period. Many of his maps were copied by other mapmakers across the continent.