The Heritage Collection includes a significant map section containing hundreds of maps, mostly historical ones dating from the end of the 15th century up to the early 20th century. This growing collection focuses on the Gulf region, including Qatar, the Arabian Peninsula, and other Arab lands, but also holds many maps on Africa and Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Ottoman Empire as well as world maps and navigational charts, to name a few. They are supplemented by detailed maps of historically important sites such as Mecca, Medina, Aden, Muscat, Tangier and others, most which were originally included in important travel books. Historical events can be depicted in maps, as is the case of the famous cartographer and traveler Pedro Teixeira Albernaz, who depicted the Portuguese invasion and occupation of some parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
The collection contains more than 10 maps of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus), a famous ancient polymath who lived and worked in Alexandria, Egypt at the turn of the first to the second century CE (c.90 – c.168), who intensely covered geography. Among the highlights of this part of the collection is the Latin map printed in Rome in 1478 based on the work of Ptolemy, depicting Asia (“Tabula Asiae VI”), which includes the name of Qatar, referred to in Latin as ‘Catara,’ believed to be one of the earliest mentions of Qatar in a European map.
Quite unique is a large scroll map of 4.3 meters in length from the Ottoman period (17th c. CE) showing the area from the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers up to the Shatt al Arab and the Arabian Gulf. The map depicts many cities and forts, among other places, including the holy city of Mecca.
The overall maps section of the Heritage Collection includes many charts and maps by famous map makers and cartographers from the 16th to the 18th century, such as Waldseemüller, Mercator, Ortelius, Hondius, Jansson, Blaeu and Niebuhr, among many others. So this section not only provides specific insights into the Arab Peninsula and the Gulf region, it also demonstrates the development of cartography over the centuries and the increasing knowledge about various regions of the world.