My sister Hannah gave us a book of photographs from the Magnum photographic co-operative last Christmas - fascinating in its own right, but almost more fascinating (to me, anyway) was the paper she'd wrapped it in, an old wall map of some sort. Clearly fairly old, judging by the names of some of the countries. But how old?
We all know the method for dating a dictionary: masturbation. I don't mean doing it, I mean looking the word up. Maps require a different approach, though, and the obvious one would seem to be: construct a table of date ranges from the names shown on the map, and the date of the map will be in the (hopefully narrow) band of dates that they all have in common. Let's check it out.
Europe and the Middle East first - a larger map can be viewed here.
- Most obviously there is a united Germany, which means it must be before 1949 (or after 1990, but I'm ruling out that possibility). The presence of the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzig suggests it's the post-Treaty of Versailles borders, i.e. after 1919.
- Yugoslavia's borders suggest it's before 1941, it must also be after 1918 as Yugoslavia didn't exist before then.
- Similarly Czechoslovakia didn't exist before 1918.
- There's no Israel, so it must be before 1948.
- The "Levant States" generally referred to the French Mandates of Syria and Lebanon between 1920 and 1946; similarly Transjordan existed between 1921 and 1946 (at which point it became Jordan).
- French Indochina existed officially between 1887 and 1954, after which it became North and South Vietnam and Cambodia.
- India is still occupying all the territory now occupied by Pakistan and Bangladesh, which puts it before 1947.
- Sri Lanka is still called Ceylon; the change happened in 1972.
- Sakhalin is still in two bits, the lower bit being the northernmost prefecture of Japan - this situation lasted from 1905 to 1945 when the whole island reverted to belonging to the Soviet Union.
- Dahomey existed as a separate state between 1894 and 1960 - it is now Benin.
- Wikipedia is a bit sketchy over exactly when Abyssinia changed its name to Ethiopia, but it was at the latest in 1941 when it became independent.
- Tanganyika became (along with Zanzibar) Tanzania in 1964.
- Nyasaland became Malawi in 1964.
- Basutoland became Lesotho in 1966.
- South-West Africa became Namibia in 1968.
- Bechuanaland Protectorate became Botswana in 1966.
- French Guinea became Guinea in 1958.
- Italian Somaliland became part of Italian East Africa in 1936.
- Madagsacar became the Malagasy Republic in 1958 (and Madagascar again later).
- Upper Volta is conspicuous by its absence as an independent state: this state of affairs existed between 1932 and 1947 (it's now Burkina Faso).
- The splendidly-named Ubangi-Shari was a French territory which carried that name between 1903 and 1960 when it became the Central African Republic (which it still is).