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Feodosiia, detail from Manganari
12020-03-25T14:25:50-04:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f591The black box shows the location of the townplain2020-03-25T14:25:50-04:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f5
Test your close reading skills in this short study of the town of Feodosiia, on the southern coast of Crimea.
We here at Imperiia treat the New and Complete Geographical Dictionaryas a reliable source for understanding the geography of 18th century Russia. (Sure, it does not have a great deal of competition, but still - we think it is worth a read.) That said, we read our sources carefully. And every so often, we catch something out of the corner of our eye. Something puzzling. Something not quite right.
The Dictionary describes the port town of Feodosiia in the following way:
The city lies on sandy and rocky slopes that extend from the cape on the right, while on the left the land leads to the Kerch peninsula. A bay extends eastward from Feodosiia toward Cape Tash Kachik. As far as the city itself there are high fortified walls which, when the city was at its height, held 12 Greek churches, 32 Armenian churches, and 1 Roman Catholic church.
If you aren't already familiar with Crimean geography (we admit that the chances of that are low, and hey, you might want to click here to explore the Crimean coast in the early 19th century) that passage might not have struck you as curious. But have a look at the map, and then read that description again. (If we take a cue from Battleship, we can assign letters and numbers to the columns and rows of this lovely 1854 map of Crimea. Feodosiia is in D3; Kerch is in F2.)
Something is wrong. To be more precise, something about the Dictionary description does not match the map. What is it? If you aren't quite sure yet, how about having a look at another map. This map gives a better sense of the topography around Feodosiia. Can you see the difference between the land to the left of town and the land to the right? So which is correct? The map or the Dictionary? How can you be sure? Now. What if we told you this was not a mistake at all, and that it all comes down to how we asked the question in the first place? What if we told you that both the dictionary and the map were right? (They are.) Can you come up with an explanation?