Geologic Map of the Arabian Peninsula

Date: 1963
Place: Washington, D.C.
Dimensions: 129.5 x 185.5 cm (51 x 73 inches)
Condition Rating: VG+

Out of stock

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The first complete geological profile of Saudi Arabia and her neighbors; the result of a collaboration between ARAMCO and the U.S. Geological Survey.


This monumental wall-map of the Arabian Peninsula, issued in 1963, was compiled as a collaboration between the U.S. Geological Survey and the Arab-American Oil Company (Aramco). The project was jointly sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum and the U.S. Department of State, underlining just how significant the stakes in this game were (and still are). The map’s thematic focus is on the geological make-up of Saudi Arabia and the states surrounding it (i.e., Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait). Visualizing Arabia’s complex geological composition required a significant degree of detail to be shown, which is why a scale of 1:2 000 000 and Lambert’s Conformal Conic Projection was applied.

Holding the largest fossil fuel deposits on the planet, Arabia was already of considerable interest to American and British oil companies from the 1930s. When the U.S. Department of State and the Saudi Ministry of Petroleum joined forces to commission this map, it was not the first geological survey undertaken in Saudi Arabia by the Americans. It was, however, by far the most comprehensive, which meant that this particular map soon superseded all those that had preceded it, and it is precisely the degree of accuracy and detail that has made this map so collectible.

Prior to this particular US-Saudi collaboration, many oil-related maps had been issued, including several by the Arabian American Oil Company. Among these important predecessors was a printed map first issued in 1951 (and revised in 1953). These maps were often printed with a note of caution that the information conveyed could be subject to continual changes and updates, reflecting that the physiographic understanding of Arabia in many places was still based on arbitrary descriptions like travelers’ accounts. Thus, while earlier maps and charts provided the booming oil industry with a detailed overview of relevant infrastructure and early pipelines, it was only with the involvement of the U.S. Geological Survey and the publication of this map that a complete geological profile of the Peninsula was compiled. The subsequent publication of a series of geological reports and assessments based on this map is a testimony to just how seminal it was.

The map was issued as part of the Miscellaneous geological investigations series and was numbered ‘map I-270A’. It was initially printed as a single sheet measuring 130 by 186 cm (or 51 x 73 inches), and its high resolution and enormous dimensions reflect that it was created as a tool for remote prospecting and mapping out potential pockets of fossil fuel. Because of its large dimensions, this map has since been professionally dissected and backed on linen, allowing for easier archiving, display, use in the field.

The extensive color-coded legends running along either side of the map provide a detailed key to understanding the geological stratification of Arabia. These also pertain to neighboring regions such as Jordan, Oman, and Yemen. In addition to the colorful geological profiles, the map contains many place names, including cities and towns, major roads, airports, islands, mountain ranges, and many other features. Topographic profiles are provided throughout the map, including along the floors of the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Arabian Sea. All the nation-states that one would expect to find have been clearly delineated. The only omission in this regard is the border between Iraq and Kuwait, an undefined line that Saddam Hussein would use to legitimize his invasion of Kuwait three decades later.

In sum, this is an impressive, almost overwhelming chart: extremely rich and highly accurate in its detail, beautifully executed, and monumental in both size and significance.


Arabian American Oil Company

The Arabian American Oil Company (1933-1990; now Saudi Aramco) is a petroleum partnership between U.S. firms and Saudi Arabia, which traces its origins to 29 May 1933, when the Saudi Arabian government granted a concession to the Standard Oil Co. of California (Chevron) in preference to a rival bid from the Iraq Petroleum Co. The concession allowed the Standard Oil Co. to explore for oil in Saudi Arabia.

U.S. Geological Survey

Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is a scientific agency under the U.S. government whose purpose is to investigate, survey, and map the United States territory, including natural resources and any potential threats to the depicted habitat. The organization has evolved over time, gradually adapting to the progress of science and technology.

The USGS is the only science-based agency under the Department of the Interior, and its responsibilities fall within the disciplines of biology, geography, geology, and hydrology. The USGS is considered the best authority on domestic questions relating to these subjects, and often their maps will cover several or all of these themes in the same chart.

Condition Description

Very good. Scattered wear but nothing affecting the map image. Laid on new linen.