A Sinai sheet map from the first national survey following Egyptian independence.

[Secret Map number 0957] Jabal al-Khatmiah


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Date: [Compiled in December 1954] 1956
Place: Cairo
Dimensions: 80 x 72.5 cm (31.5 x 28.5 in)
Condition Rating: VG


This confidential and deeply fascinating military map was compiled in 1954 by army officers in a newly independent Egypt. The map is labeled “Secret Map number 0957” in Arabic and depicts a restricted area in the Sinai Peninsula known as Jabal al-Khatmiah. The area is somewhat isolated, which is why most of the printed annotations on the map consist of obscure toponyms, mostly of mountains and wadis.


Secret cartography

While the map was compiled in 1954, it appears only to have been printed/published in 1956 and then under the authority of the Egypt Geological Survey (see context section below). A stamp in the corner nevertheless relates it to the Egyptian Defense Ministry as well, stipulating that the map is a military survey and thus the property of the Egyptian War Department.

It is undersigned by one Ali al-Ghoneim. We have not been able to identify this individual specifically, but our research indicates that the Ghoneim family is a multi-generational family of army officers closely associated with the country’s military leadership. An annotation on the map indicates that the actual cartographers or compilers of these charts were two Egyptian military engineers named Abd al-Raouf Rizwan and Mohammad Amin.


Historical context of the map’s creation

The map was compiled in December 1954, which is an extremely interesting year in Egyptian history. Officially, Egypt won its independence in 1953 under the leadership of Mohamed Naguib and his adjutant, Gamal Abdel Nasser. These two charismatic leaders drove forth the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which toppled the monarchies of Egypt and Sudan and saw the establishment of an Egyptian Republic and an independent Sudan.

The British occupiers were not too keen on these developments, however, and did not actually leave the country until mid to late 1954. This means that our map most likely constitutes the first independent and official mapping project in an autonomous Egypt. Both from its printed annotations and its distinct appearance as one sheet in a larger topographical survey of Sinai, we may conclude that this was produced for and by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s new army, which essentially are the same forces that continue to rule Egypt to this day.

Condition Description

Substantial evidence of use and wear. Linen backed.