By: Hartmann Schedel
Date: 1493 (published) Nuremberg
Original Size: 15 x 20.5 in (36.8 x 50.8 cm)
This is a spectacular reproduction of one of the earliest obtainable maps of the world. Originally published in Hartmann Schedel’s 1st edition of Liber Chronicarum in July 1493 out of Nuremberg, this map presents the world as it known prior to Columbus’s discovery of America and Dias’s rounding of the cape.
The influence of Ptolemy’s Geographia is apparent in the general projection of this map as the known world stretch from northeast Africa and Europe to Asia, but not far enough to present the Far East coast. The Indian Ocean is shown to be completely landlocked and vast rivers and mountain ranges span the interiors of the land. The map is surrounded by the 12 windheads, common among 15th century world maps and presented by the three sons of Noah responsible for repopulating Earth after the great flood, Japhet, Shem, and Ham.
The most curious aspect about the map that’s absolutely impossible to ignore are the grotesque humanoid creatures that line the left side of the map and right page on the verso. These medieval engravings represent the peoples of distant lands throughout the world. Such horrid and demonic representations of unknown people helped legitimize the general harsh treatment and annihilation of indigenous tribes that inhabited much of the unknown world. The inspiration for many of these creatures stem from fables by Herodotus, Solinuis, Mela, Pliny, and Pompus, many others stem from medieval traveler’s tales.
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What can be referred to as modern cartography has been around for over 550 years. Throughout that time an enormous amount of new land was discovered, cities were founded while others perished. International trade and travel became the norm, political borders were ever-changing, and numerous wars were waged. With all that being said, hundreds of thousands of maps were created that show such events and episodes in time.
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