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Description

A Rare British Indian Imprint. Printed for the Government at the Bombay Education Society's Press. Authored by of the Most Important Sources on 19th-Century Iraq

Very rare map of the River Tigris above Baghdad, created by the important archeologist and surveyor Commander James Felix Jones.

This superb map of the central tract of the Tigris is the work of Felix Jones, one of the most influential surveyors in 19th century Mesopotamia, whose published memoirs still constitute one of the best authorities on Ottoman Iraq. Jones (1813-1874) was a British Commander in the Indian Navy and an employee of the East India Company. Few of his contemporaries were as well-informed about Iraq's riverine landscape and its archaeological heritage.

The map is a mix of up-to-date survey work and historical reconstruction. It stretches from Qádesiyeh in the north to Baghdad in the south. In between, Jones plots both the Tigris' current flow and offers a hypothetical reconstruction of its ancient course. The placement of Baghdad in this landscape reveals how the plains and Tigris valley formed a natural culmination point at this ancient capital.   The river's current course is shaded blue, while the former path of the waterway is unshaded. Numerous archeological sites line the banks of the rivers, some of which were first discovered by the creators of this map.

The map is highly detailed, including relevant physiography, modern villages and towns, minute contours and river bends, canals and other hydrological features, some topography, vegetation, and a plethora of ancient sites, many of which were known to Western audiences from the Bible. Jones centers it on the site of Opis, whose five mounds are rendered more or less in the middle of the map.

Opis is an ancient Babylonian site on the Tigris not far from modern Baghdad, where Jones resided. It is interesting for several reasons. It is known from Akkadian and Greek texts and was associated with the post-Alexandrian city of Seleucia. Even though several people claimed to have identified it (starting with Ross 1841), the exact location remained a mystery until the late 1980s (Högelmann & Buschmann 1986; Talbert 2000; Parpola & Porter 2001). Jones' map reconstructs the archaeological landscape and offers his hypothesis as to the location of this site.
In 1850 Jones surveyed the old bed of the Tigris, discovered the site of the ancient Opis, and made further research in the vicinity of the Median Wall of Xenophon, constructed when the Ten Thousand invaded Babylon.

The map appeared in Jones' Memoirs by Commander James Felix Jones, I.N. Steam-Trip to the North of Baghdad, in April 1846... . The book was compiled and edited by R. Hughes Thomas, Assistant Secretary, Political Department and published in 1857. This extremely rare book is considered one of the pre-eminent books on Ottoman Iraq. Jones and his colleagues conducted sometimes-covert studies of the vicinity of Baghdad for several years, producing what has been termed "an encyclopedia of information on Baghdad in the mid-nineteenth century" (Burell). The maps accompanying the report are notable for there extremely-accurate research.

Following publication of this book, Commander Jones would become a political agent in the Persian Gulf and was charged with planning a possible invasion of Persia. 

Rarity

The published memoir was compiled and edited by R. Hughes Thomas, Assistant Secretary in the Political Department, and was printed at the Bombay Education Society's Press as a formal government publication. The intact volume of Jones' memoirs and surveys is among the most important sources on Ottoman Iraq in the nineteenth century, and it has consequently become exceedingly rare on the open market. Original maps from his memoirs are just as rare, although price ranges for these remain less established. The map plates from Jones' Memoirs were all printed on thin paper intended for literary publication. As a result, many of the examples removed from the original volume have not survived.

While no records exist for the individual maps, the OCLC records institutional copies of the entire book at Freie Universität Berlin, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg (no. 255035454), Institut de France, King’s College London, Bibliotheque Nationale Universitaire de Strasbourg, University of Oxford (no. 690339413), and the British Library (no. 562121237). 

Condition Description
Original hand-color. Two sheets, joined.
John Felix Jones Biography

John Felix Jones was a captain in the Indian navy and surveyor.

As noted in the Dictionary of National Biography:

Jones first served as a midshipman and lieutenant of the East India Company's ship Palinurus, under Commander Robert Moresby, engaged in the survey of the northern part of the Red Sea, 1829–34. The charts were principally drawn by Jones. He was next employed in the survey of Ceylon and the Gulf of Manaar, under Lieutenant Powell, and in May 1840 joined Lieutenant C. D. Campbell, commanding the Nitocris, in the survey of Mesopotamia, in the course of which he connected the Euphrates and Mediterranean by chronometric measurements for longitude.

In October 1841 Captain Lynch commenced the survey of the Euphrates, and on his retirement in 1843 was succeeded by Jones, who continued for several years the examination of the Tigris and Euphrates. Consequent on the disputes between Persia and Turkey in 1843, Jones, in company with Major (now Sir Henry) Rawlinson, was sent in August 1844 to collect information respecting the boundary, the results obtained being officially printed in 1849, under the title ‘Narrative of a Journey through Parts of Persia and Kurdistan.’

In 1848 Jones examined the course of the ancient Nahrwan canal, and surveyed the once fertile region which it irrigated.

In 1850 Jones surveyed the old bed of the Tigris, discovered the site of the ancient Opis, and made researches in the vicinity of the Median wall and Physcus of Xenophon . . . . In 1852 he made a trigonometrical survey of the country between the Tigris and the Upper Zab, including the ruins of Nineveh, the results of which are recorded in a series of maps of ‘Assyrian Vestiges,’ and the accompanying memoir.  In 1853 he completed a map of Bagdad on a large scale, with a memoir on the province.

In 1854 he was named political agent at Bagdad and consul-general in Turkish Arabia. In 1855 he was appointed political agent in the Persian Gulf, and in that capacity was able to render important services during the war in 1856, and still more during the mutiny of 1857–8.

Broken health then compelled him to return to England, and, though he revisited Bombay in 1863, he had no further active employment. His later years were spent in geographical work for the India office, and in 1875 he completed a beautifully drawn map, in four sheets, of Western Asia, including the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates; it remains in manuscript in the India office. He was also a constant contributor to the ‘Geographical Magazine’ and an active fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.