Armenia For Visitors

March 14, 2006

Historic Maps of Armenia — scanned copy

Filed under: Book Reviews — Susan @ 10:40 pm

Historic Maps of Armenia Book Review

This is a scanned copy of the article as it appeared in Geographical in February 2005. I’ll work on increasing the size.


Historic Maps of Armenia Book Review (text)

Filed under: Book Reviews — Susan @ 10:16 pm

Historic Maps of Armenia The Cartographic Heritage
Rouben Galichian

I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.
London and New York
ISBN 1-86064-979-3, March 2004, 220 pages, £49.50 

Armenia has a history spanning 2,500 years. Throughout this time, its size and shape have changed dramatically in response to political forces.  Once as large as France and Germany combined, it now occupies an area roughly the size of Belgium. Cartography has also undergone many changes, since the earliest lines were drawn on clay tablets or etched in stone. Rouben Galichian brings both of these elements together in his book Historic Maps of Armenia: The Cartographic Heritage (I.B. Tauris), presenting a history of Armenia through the history of its maps.

The earliest map in this collection is a Babylonian tablet dating from 600 BC. Coming forward in time we see Greek and Alexandrian, Christian, Ottoman, and Islamic maps, presented in chorological order, and ending with a satellite photo taken in 2002. This book includes 127 colour maps and 36 detailed ones.  Each is accompanied by a detailed explanation showing its origin and use, date, cartographer, size, and location today. According to the publisher, “The author has produced a work of reference and artistic distinction, which should prove a valuable tool to all who follow the history of Armenia, the Caucasus, the Ottoman and Iranian worlds, as well as to collectors and enthusiasts of cartography.

A unique feature of the book is its page layout and printing. Even though the publisher is British, they’ve chosen to have the production completed in Armenia.  If you thought that this might mean shoddy materials and poor standards – this is not the case. The colour renderings are magnificent, the paper is heavy duty, and the book itself is just top notch – and at £49.50 it is worth every penny. 

You may not have the time to go to the British Museum, the Bibliotèque National de France, or the other libraries and museums around the world – as Mr. Galichian did to see these maps himself. Now you don’t have to.

© 2005 Susan Smith Thompson
This review was originally published in the Geographical magazine in the United Kingdom. February 2005


The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia & Karabagh Book Review

Filed under: Book Reviews — Susan @ 4:29 pm

The Stone Garden Guide:
Armenia & Karabagh

Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian
Stone Garden Productions, 2004, 304 pages, US$24.95

The Republic of Armenia can trace its history over 3,000 years. Its borders once flowed from the Mediterranean to the Caspian Sea. Karabagh, a tiny Armenian enclave that was once part of the ancient Armenian province of Artsakh, is endeavoring to have its independence from Azerbaijan formally recognized. These neighboring localities boast a wealth of ancient sites and beautiful mountains, valleys, and vistas worth visiting.

Tourism in this part of the world was, until recently, largely restricted to citizens of the former Soviet Union. Now travelers can have a glimpse of what awaits them with The Stone Garden Guide: Armenia and Karabagh (Stone Garden Productions, 2004.) This travel guide to Armenia and Karabagh offers more than your average travel guide.

At 304 pages, the authors, Matthew Karanian and Robert Kurkjian, state that this is the largest guidebook on Armenia and Karabagh. The authors have been living, working, and traveling in Armenia and Karabagh since 1995 and have been to all of the places they describe. Both expert photographers, they took the 75 color photographs of panoramic vistas, ancient monuments, and local characters themselves. Their familiarity with the country, customs and culture is apparent.

What else makes this guidebook different from the rest? Its focus on ecology and conservation. The authors have devoted a whole chapter to ecology and have sprinkled nuggets about nature and conservation throughout. Casual travelers will find this guidebook helpful with detailed information about where to stay, where to go, how to get there, and even what to do before leaving home. The authors' comments are quite candid and add a humorous touch, especially for those who have had similar experiences. Returning travelers will appreciate the breadth and depth of information presented, especially new opportunities to travel off the beaten path. Armchair travelers will feel that they are "right there" with the myriad of photos and descriptions of the people and locales.

Robert Glenn Ketchum, environmental conservationist and nature photographer, said it best in the forward, "We would all be much better informed as visitors if all guidebooks provided this breadth of information, revealing not only what we need to know with regard to our creature comforts to enjoy being there, but also what we should know about the many wonderful creatures that live in the place we are visiting."

(c) 2005 Susan Smith Thompson
Originally published in the Spring 2005 edition of Restless Me. Click here to see it.

Blog at