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Lawrence of Arabia’s map of Arabia set to go on sale

Lawrence of Arabia’s hand-drawn map of Northern Arabia, which records a crucial period in the history of the Arab Revolution against the Ottoman Empire, will be offered for sale in London

Ahram Online from London, Thursday 11 Sep 2014
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The Lawrence of Arabia historical hand-drawn map of northern Arabia during World War I will be auctioned on 4 November.

The map, sketched by Thomas Edward Lawrence in 1917, records a crucial period in the history of Arab revolutions against the Ottoman Turkish Empire.

Sotheby’s London, the renowned auctioneer, expects the map reaches LE800,000 – LE1 million (£70,000-100,000).

The map charts Lawrence’s journey across the desert of Arabia, now known as Saudi Arabia, in May 1917. It is the only map in Lawrence’s hand, showing  details of the route he followed in the days preceding the capture of the Red seaport of Aqaba later that year, which was seen by historians as a decisive victory in the Arab uprising to topple Ottoman rule.

Lawrence was a British scholar and soldier who played a crucial role in mobilising the Arab revolt in World War I and became known as “Lawrence of Arabia.”

According to British documents, in 1914 Lawrence was part of an expedition to explore northern Sinai, carrying out reconnaissance under the cover of a scientific expedition.

When war broke out, he became an intelligence officer in Cairo. In June 1916, the Arab revolt began against Turkey, an ally of Germany, a revolt the British had strongly encouraged. Lawrence was a liaison officer and adviser to Faisal, son of the revolt's leader Sherif Hussein of Mecca.

The Royal Society of Asian Affairs is the current owner of the map which was shown recently in major exhibitions at the Imperial War Museum in London and at the Australian War Memorial Canberra.

In the notes he wrote on the map sketch, Lawrence carefully plotted the map on a single sheet of tracing paper, signing it and annotating it with the words “this is the only drawn copy so please do not lose it prematurely.”

Lawrence left the UK’ s Royal Air Force in February 1935 and died on 19 May following a motorcycle accident.

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