What is going on with maurya empire map?

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
One thing I've wondered which might be underestimating Roman control (or overestimating Arab control) is the control of the Sahara desert, many maps of Arabic control of the region tends to extend further south than maps of Roman Empire, I wonder whether the Arabs had a greater presence there or is this just one of those arbitrary double standards.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
The hard part is that some seemingly "empty" areas are actually really valuable, like Kazakhstan in both the Medieval and the Modern eras. It may seem virtually lifeless but in the medieval period it had tons of horses, one of the most valuable resources, and in the modern period copious amounts of oil. Areas like the Gobi are tricky since some tribes did inhabit the edges depending on the season. Lifeless areas like the Kyzylkum or the empty quarter are more obvious, but the western standard seems to be that if you encircle it you can claim all of it.
It's a lot better to include people than space, if you receive the submission of the people around the empty space, the area is generally considered to have been pacified. If a regime subjugated all tribes on both sides of the Gobi, then the Gobi is just a migrating space within the Empire. However, in some cases of early European maps, many native American tribes are either fully autonomous or not even nominally subservient. The Europeans claimed it merely because they signed some treatise of alliance with them (without the tribes understanding European ideas of territory) and/or explored the region (or even just the area around it). The Spanish Empire of the 18th century is the best example of that. If we use the same standards that Spain controlled all of the Louisiana territory, then yes the Mauryan Empire can look like the first map and many East/Inner Asian regimes would have been much larger as well, and some would have extended so far north into Siberia, that you can claim almost half (a good two thirds in the case of the Mongols) of the Soviet Union.
 
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Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
One thing I've wondered which might be underestimating Roman control (or overestimating Arab control) is the control of the Sahara desert, many maps of Arabic control of the region tends to extend further south than maps of Roman Empire, I wonder whether the Arabs had a greater presence there or is this just one of those arbitrary double standards.
Double standard, Deserts cannot be controlled, couse you can't build anything, farm , collect resources ( apart today ofc) or else...
In ancient times Deserts could at best be crossed...

Romans did cross the Sahar in several occasions, even reaching subsaharian regions and lake ciad or even reached the southern sources of Nile river or else , yet those regions are ofc not included in Roman maps , despite a whole legion was dispatched to lake ciad. Did Romans have control on Sahar ? Not really couse there was nothing and none to control, but if you use the double standard used for Mongols or Arabs to include deserts then Roman maps should include also large portions of the Sahar , beeing also the only power able to send troops beyond the desert even.
So if we have to draw boundaries of Roman Empire based on the Mongol and Arab empire maps standard, we should Include lot of lands were they regurarly projected power militarly , culturally and commercially . Something that in most cases mongols or Arabs didn't even do in some regions, mostly picking from the locals the costums, techs and culture.
 

heavenlykaghan

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Mar 2012
4,437
I see a lot of towns or cities on the Sahara and Roman trade with people in place like Akjoujt and Tamkartkart; did they submit to Roman rule or paid tribute? If they didn't, then the whole span of territory cannot be included under Roman rule.



It would be good if there are some sources on the different African settlements on the Sahara, the whole span of the desert doesn't seem to be uninhabited. The Islamic Empire maps generally look like this, and perhaps it shows how many people converted to Islam:

 

civfanatic

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Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Yeah western historical cartographers have definitely been biased, surprise!, in favor of western empires. Apparently we are to believe that the Portuguese controlled and owned a chunk of the Amazon rainforest, that the Spanish controlled all the deserts in NW Mexico/SW USA, or the British made good use out of the entire Australian desert or every inch of Canada's northwest territories, etc etc there's so many examples. This would be "acceptable" to a degree if the same standard was used everywhere but it definitely isn't.
Maps of modern Western empires don't depict the same thing that maps of other empires depict. For example, when Western maps show the vast Louisiana territory in North America as "part" of the French or Spanish empires, they are not necessarily saying that the French and Spanish control that territory. Instead, what they are saying is that France or Spain have sovereignty over that territory, i.e. the exclusive right to exercise authority over that territory as recognized by other Western powers. The mere recognition of sovereignty or the right to exercise authority is not the same thing as being able to actually exercise authority. For example, the whole world recognizes that Syria possesses sovereignty over Aleppo and its environs, which is why every official map of Syria shows Aleppo as part of Syria, but that doesn't imply that Syria actually does control Aleppo and its environs. Rather, the official map of Syria shows which territories the Syrian government ought to control, just as European maps of colonial empires in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania shows which territories ought to be controlled by one colonial power or another (even if they don't actually control that territory completely or at all).
 
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Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
I see a lot of towns or cities on the Sahara and Roman trade with people in place like Akjoujt and Tamkartkart; did they submit to Roman rule or paid tribute? If they didn't, then the whole span of territory cannot be included under Roman rule.



It would be good if there are some sources on the different African settlements on the Sahara, the whole span of the desert doesn't seem to be uninhabited. The Islamic Empire maps generally look like this, and perhaps it shows how many people converted to Islam:

The ones portrayed there are just oasis where some nomad tribes stationed to cross the desert . Not really nations, but some nomads .
As for the Arab Expansion map is totally broken since the Arbs simply occupied the earlier Roman territories and had relations with the same berber tribes of the desert as Romans did .
 

Guaporense

Ad Honorem
Mar 2011
5,047
Brazil
The usual map





The map suggested by German Indologists





why is there stark difference of territorial claims of the mauryas?

is there any agenda to reduce significance of the maurya empire?
Same types of differences appear in maps of many ancient empires:

Han China maps:
(1)


(2)


The territory of the second map looks over twice as large as in the first map.

The fact is that we really have imperfect information regarding the exact degree of territorial control of each ancient state as well as there is a difference between territorial claim and territory effectively controlled as explained by civfanatic explains.

The farther back in time we go the worse our knowledge regarding territorial control tends to be. Also I should point out that the as research is done more precise borders tend to be know and maps of territorial control tends to decrease in size as maps improve from speculative borders covering large landmasses to roughly where the borders might have really been. For instance, we know the Roman Empire's borders in 2nd century much better than the Islamic Caliphate borders in the 8th century, because the amount of research done for the first case is much larger than the second.
 

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,494
Same types of differences appear in maps of many ancient empires:

Han China maps:
(1)
That is more a map of the Han dynasty's directly taxed population rather than actual territorial boundaries. Maps should be compared under the same standard. Just because both maps are 'blotchy' don't mean they are drawn under the same standard.
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
Maps of modern Western empires don't depict the same thing that maps of other empires depict. For example, when Western maps show the vast Louisiana territory in North America as "part" of the French or Spanish empires, they are not necessarily saying that the French and Spanish control that territory. Instead, what they are saying is that France or Spain have sovereignty over that territory, i.e. the exclusive right to exercise authority over that territory as recognized by other Western powers. The mere recognition of sovereignty or the right to exercise authority is not the same thing as being able to actually exercise authority. For example, the whole world recognizes that Syria possesses sovereignty over Aleppo and its environs, which is why every official map of Syria shows Aleppo as part of Syria, but that doesn't imply that Syria actually does control Aleppo and its environs. Rather, the official map of Syria shows which territories the Syrian government ought to control, just as European maps of colonial empires in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania shows which territories ought to be controlled by one colonial power or another (even if they don't actually control that territory completely or at all).
Most maps of ancient empires are trying to project modern concepts of sovereignty as perceived today; and that applies for both maps of the Mauryan Empire shown; whether the more generalized one or the truncated version. If not, maps of ancient regimes wouldn't even have clearly colored blotches to represent control as ancient boundary lines are often vague and control over vassals not clearly defined.

Every culture has their own unique way of defining imperial rule, and there is no reason to give western ideas of sovereignty special treatment; especially when you are talking about times when western notions of imperial rule are not universal. If you apply Mauryan ideas of dominion, then the Mauryan did consider all the lands of the Aparantas as well as the "unconquered" forest people, as within its dominion as inscriptions stated. Here the Mauryan does not need other states to recognize said claims, because you have a single polity which has a monopoly of power over the surrounding region to define itself as the entirety of the Indian international system.
This is especially true when you have unipolar empires that eliminated all competitive state polities in the surroundings as in the case of the Mongol Empire (and hence you can argue that they are free to define what tribes are within their domain or rule when there are no other state polities to challenge that claim).

Europe also isn't unique in having the concept of international recognition. In the East Asian tributary system, international recognition of said system meant recognition from the legitimate Chinese court and theoretically, all lands under heaven are the king's land, so any state which receives an imperial seal and accepts it internally that the emperor was his source of authority is theoretically under the authority of the emperor. This is despite the fact that ideas of vassals having separate domain from the emperor's own state is clear in Chinese sources.

The western concept of sovereignty was itself not clearly defined prior to the late 19th century when people like Weber started to define sovereignty as the exclusive right of a state to exercise power; the first systematically drawn out international law also wasn't really made until after 1903 and it started to increasingly demand de facto control as a requisite for sovereignty (unless a state only temporarily looses power over its territory, and modern international law has made it clear if a certain span of time passes without the nominal sovereign exercising its power, then the de facto independent state is in effect legally independent).


The very fact that different maps uses different standards in drawing what constitutes imperial control shows an arbitrary and biased choice.
 
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heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,437
The ones portrayed there are just oasis where some nomad tribes stationed to cross the desert . Not really nations, but some nomads .
As for the Arab Expansion map is totally broken since the Arbs simply occupied the earlier Roman territories and had relations with the same berber tribes of the desert as Romans did .
Are these nomads subject to Roman or Arab suzerainty? If so, which source mentioned that?