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    Losing Trebizond
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2023 Mar 10, 10:20 -0800

    My Mac screen saver has a a sort of "word of the day" function that displays words in various languages. I like to let it run in languages besides English to see if anything inspires me. Today I had it in "Italian" mode, and it put up the word "trebisonda". I thought, "Hmmm... that looks like the old name, Trebizond, as in Empire of Trebizond --a Byzantine state which had its capital at modern Trabzon on the northern coast of Turkey near Georgia on the Black Sea." Then I thought, "Nah. Probably just a coincidence."

    But it popped up again, so I investigated. In Italian, trebisonda, as it turns out, is used in one expression "perdere la trebisonda" or "Losing Trebizond" which can mean something as simple as "get dizzy" or more directly "losing the focus of a venture", and it turns out it has navigational significance. Medieval Italian merchants, probably mostly from Genoa, traded in the Black Sea, and Trebizond was a key destination, a lucrative center on an otherwise dangerous coast. Apparently (so they say) Trebizond was marked by a prominent "lighthouse" (whatever that implied in the 14th or 15th centuries), and a navigator who lost track of the lighthouse, lost Trebizond, and possibly the voyage. The lighthouse may be a modern addition to the etymology, but the story still works.

    Frank Reed
    Clockwork Mapping / ReedNavigation.com / HistoricalAtlas.com
    Conanicut Island USA

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