Historical Gazetteer of Ottoman Bulgaria is a project initiated by Dr. Boykov that aims to ease scholarly and wider audience’s access to a database of toponyms in present-day Bulgaria that were in use during the Ottoman rule over this territory. Population exchange and systematic nationalistic effort to obliterate country’s Turkish/Islamic toponyms and replace them with Bulgarian ones, in the course of the late 19th and throughout the 20th centuries, lead in many instances to a complete substitution of toponymy used in the Ottoman period. The latest campaign of Bulgaria’s local authorities for Turkish/Islamic toponymy replacement took place in 2018 when 838 microtoponyms in the region of Stara Zagora were “translated” into Bulgarian and hence officially obliterated. The project, therefore, makes an effort to offer an openly accessible tool of Ottoman-era toponyms with reference to their spatial location that can allow scholars to identify historical settlements from the Ottoman period, encountered in the primary sources with greater precision. Furthermore, linguistic analysis of toponymic data has the potential to reveal ethnic changes and migration processes over time, which are otherwise not indicated in the primary sources, used by the historians.
Representing in essence a database of toponyms and their hierarchy, the project applies a diverse strategy for toponymic data collection. It is primarily based on settlement toponymy extraction from different types of Ottoman primary sources from the 15th through the 19th centuries. Additionally, it also relies on toponymic information extracted through a process of map mining of several historical maps such as the 1878 Russian 3-verst map (1:126,000); the Generalkarte von Mitteleuropa, a result of the 3rd Military Mapping Survey of Austria-Hungary (1:200,000); the Rumeli-i şahane haritası of the Ottoman army Headquarters (1:210,000), and some other smaller scale European and Ottoman maps. Thus far the project has received funding by the Cultural Heritage, National Identity and Society Development Program of the Bulgarian Ministry of Science and Education.
Dr. Grigor Boykov