|Vercelli's world map, 12th-13 th century oriented with East at the top.|
Vercelli Mappamundi , ca. 1200 author unknown
The English geographical culture in the 13th century is revealed in the unusual circumstance that four important 13th century mappaemundi, the Vercelli, Dutchy of Cornwall, Ebstorf and Hereford - either are English or apear to have stong English connections. The Vercelli map, measuring 84 X 72 cm and obviously missing large portions of the map area, is the smallest of the three. It now resides in the Archivio Capitolare in Vercelli and has been dated by Carlo Capello to between 1191 and 1218. Its inspiration may well have been English.
Capello believes that the map was carried to Vercelli by Cardinal Guala-Bicchieri on his return from England about 1218-19 as papal legate to Henry III. He also argues that the figure on the map of a king in Mauretania named "Phillip" is intended to represent Philip II of France (1180-1223) and not Philip III (1270-85). On stylistic grounds, he similarly places the map earlier rather than later in the 13th century and draws particular attention to the fact that, while considered part of the Orosian-Isidorian tradition , it is not centered on Jerusalem as were maps later in the century, like the Hereford and Ebstorf mappaemundi. (Archivio Capitolare, Vercelli)
Destombes, M., Mappemones A.D. 1200-1500, Plate XXIII.
Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume One
|Ibn Sa'id's world map from the Kitab al-bad' wa-al-ta'rikh, 13th century (oriented with East at the top)|
World Map of Ibn Sa'id , 1570 , 'Ali ibn Musa ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi
A variety of an Islamic world map with an open Indian Ocean is represented by a map found in a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, titled Kitab al-bad' wa-al-ta'rikh [Book of beginning and history)1569-70. Although the date of the map is very late, its derivation from Ibn Hawqal III is noticeable . However, one would expect a missing link somewhere between the two that may or may not have had the open Indian Ocean. The work it accompanies is anonymous but was originally attributed to Ibn Sa'id. Most of the maps attributed to Ibn Sa'ld by Konrad Miller and others who follow Miller (e.g., Leo Bagrow) are really from the later version of Ibn Hawqal (Ibn Hawqal III) mentioned earlier. Manuscripts of Ibn Sa'ld's work have no maps. Kropp has shown that there is no connection with the work of Ibn Sa'id, and all we can really say is that it was produced in North Africa and in its present form dates from approximately the latter half of the 16th century, the period of the manuscript in which it is found.
This manuscript and the map are discussed in an article by Manfred Kropp, who attributed the work to al-Shawi al-Fasi, the writer of the manuscript; a legend on the map states that the map is compiled according to an account taken by al-Kindi and al-Sarakhsi from the book of Ptolemy. This is a dubious statement, since these two authors were not geographers and are not mentioned in connection with maps until centuries after their deaths. But the origin of the map must be back in the 12th or 13th century, and it is influenced by Ibn Hawqal III and by al-BIruni's sketch of land and water distribution .
Thus the southern half of the world circle consists mainly of water. The Northern Hemisphere is very similar to that of the circular world map of al-ldrlsi , and the pattern of arcs of circles for climatic boundaries is another feature derived from that author. The south coast of Asia resembles more than anything else the same area from the Ibn Hawqal III world map, whereas Africa shows the two peninsulas mentioned earlier, with no landmass to the south and east-only an open ocean. This is what will be found in future Islamic world maps. This map is from the Islamic west in the al-ldrisi tradition, but the same features will be seen in the map of Hamd Allah Mustawfi in the east and in a later map of Indian origin. It is reasonably detailed and from this point of view excels the map of Hamd Allah Mustawfi, but it cannot compare in detail of topographical content with the sectional maps of al-ldrlsl or the world map of his successor al-Sifaqsl. Nevertheless, it shows considerable development in geo-graphical content and as such is extremely interesting.
Maps resembling this one survived until comparatively recent times, and degenerate copies appear from time to time, especially in the Indian subcontinent. An interesting and detailed map that must derive ultimately from this source exists in the Museum fur Islamische Kunst in Berlin and probably comes from the 18th century . It is basically an Arab map in Arabic, though some Persian forms appear and place-names in India are given in both Arabic and Hindi scripts. However, the whole map is nothing but a very decadent and late version whose ancestry goes back through some map similar to the Bodleian map to a version of Ibn Hawqal III, but without an African landmass spreading throughout the Southern Hemisphere.
The semicircular world map from the work of Sadiq Isfahani shows a similar derivation, as do several other maps of Indian origin that have been published. The later they are, the more decadent they appear. The map (albeit in a European copy) Bagrow illustrates as a Persian map may not appear to be related either to the world map of Ibn Hawqal III or to that of al-ldnsl. It is nevertheless their ultimate descendant through a long series of maps in the Indian sub-continent. (Bodleian Library, MS. Laud. Or. 317, fols. 10v-11r, Oxford)
Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume Two
Kropp, M., " 'Kitab al-bad' wa-t-ta'rih' von Abu l-Hasan 'All ibn Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Ahmad As-Sawiial-Fasl und sein Verhältnis zu dem 'Kitab al-Ca'rafiyya' von az-Zuhri,'" in Proceedings of the Ninth Congress of the Union Europeenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, Amsterdam, 1st to 7th September, 1978, ed. Rudolph Peters (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981)
|al-Qazwini world map, 1032/1662 (oriented with South at the top)|
'Aj'ib al-makhluquat (The Marvels of Created Things) , 13th century
Zakariya Ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (1203-1283)
This map was found in a manuscript measuring 35.6 X 22.9 cm, with 230 paper leaves, richly illuminated title-pages, and numerous miniatures. On fols. 52vo-53r is a double-page circular world map with a diameter of 30.5 cm. The map depicts the Islamic world, centering upon the Indian Ocean. As in most Moslem maps, the South is placed at the top. The Indian Ocean is represented as enclosed by an eastern extension of Africa, a notion descended from Ptolemy. Near the irregular and misunderstood peninsula of India clusters a group of islands. The circular bulge represents Arabia with the twin rivers of Mesopotamia nearby illustrating a non-existent connection between the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. This latter sea is much constricted and distorted. It tapers sharply toward the west, where it is inscribed, Gulf of the West. The eastern reach of the Mediterranean is labeled Sea of Egypt, and into it flows the great Nile with its many-branched sources.
The map is rendered entirely in silver and gold colors, achieving a splendid decorative effect. It is possible that this reflects some prototype made upon a plaque of silver, of which several renown Moslem examples have been recorded by medieval historians. The gold ribbons may designate the borders of the Moslem world. The red parallel lines represent the seven climatic zones, about which Al-Qazvini has a great deal to say.
The author al-Qazwini [Qazvini], sometimes called the 'Moslem Pliny', was a Persian encyclopedist who composed in Arabic, two treatises, a cosmography, Kitab 'aja'ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara'ib al-mawjudat [Marvels of things created and miraculous aspects of things existing], and a geography, Athar al-bilad [Monuments of the lands]. The influence of his texts on later geographical writers was considerable. The maps appear in copies of both works. The former work deals with the subjects of planets, stars, angels, the elements, minerals, plants, and animals. As in the case of the encyclopedias of medieval Europe, the work is a compilation of the superficial knowledge of the day, without much attempt to interpret or integrate it with contemporary data. However, its influence was still far-reaching, and it was quoted, paraphrased and translated for centuries. The illustrations, likewise, were handed down in traditional form. Transliterations of al-Qazwlnl's version can also be found in Miller, Mappae arabicae, Band 5,129-30 (Bild 6 and 7) (note 7).
Another map is found also in a manuscript of al-Qazwini's 'Aja'ib al-makhluqat. It is dated on internal evidence to the early 17th century, although as a writer al-Qazwlm (died 1283) is considerably earlier than al-Harrani (fl. 1330) or Ibn al-Wardi (died 1457 ). It is difficult to know whether this al-Qazwlnl map is the forerunner of the Ibn al-Wardi map or a less formal version developed at a later date. All three authors were cosmological writers whose works were popular right into the Ottoman period and in India. The map from al-Qazwini's work has a flowing Nile instead of a rectangular one and a rather formless Mediterranean, though much of the rest has the geometrical stiffness of the true Ibn al-Wardl maps.
Most of the manuscripts of al-Qazwml's 'Aja'ib al-makhluqat have a completely different map of the world. This is the third type of world map represents al-Biruni's sketch map of the distribution of land and sea . In al-Qazwlm's texts this map tends to become stylized. The south coast of the land is stretched across the middle of the world circle and consists of a series of roughly parallel peninsulas separated by symmetrical bays. These peninsulas are China, India, Arabia, and Africa. The northern coast of the landmass follows the circle around, leaving a series of indentations where Europe and the Mediterranean are expected. The Nile appears as a wide channel dividing Africa in two, and this may be the origin of the double peninsula for southern Africa that appears in some later maps. Finally, the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea appear as two "bubbles" in the middle of the land.
(Walters Art Gallery, fols. 52vo-53r
Forschungs-bibliothek, Gotha, MS. Orient A. 1507, fols. 95b-96a
Boleian Library, MS. Pococke 350, fol. 73v, Oxford)
Brown, L.A., The World Encompassed
Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Vol. Two
Miller, K., Mappae arabicae, Band 5
Sarton, An Introduction to the History of Science, volume II
|Psalter mappamundi, 1225 A.D.(oriented with East at the top)|
The Psalter Map , 1225-1250 A.D. author unknown
According to such scholars as Beazley, Santarem, and Miller, this 13th century map belongs to a group or family of maps called Orosian-Isidorian, consisting of the maps known as Henry of Mainz, Guido of Pisa, Vercelli, Ebstorf, and Hereford maps - presumably all derived from a common original.
The design of the Psalter map reveals an extremely small circular map, only 8.5 cm in diameter, crowded with written matter, supplying no less than 145 inscriptions. The title of the map is reflective of its tone and intent, 'a book or collection of Psalms'. It is, along with the Hereford and Ebstorf maps, a highly developed and climaxing example of the religious cosmography that evolved during the European Middle Ages, or as the critical Beazley puts it, "a highly developed but scientifically debased example of semi-mythical Geography, an elaborate exposition of strictly medieval habits of thought, applied to Geography." The Psalter map displays world knowledge removed as far as possible from the comparative science of the classical (Greek) world, and as yet quite untouched by the new light of the later Middle Ages. Or, simply the world as viewed by the didactic theocracy of medieval Europe.
At the top of the world-circle is the Savior Jesus Christ with uplifted hands; in His left He holds the globe of earth; the latter has the familiar T-O design of the continents sketched on its surface. On both sides of the Savior stand angels swinging censers; below are two dragons facing one another. On the reverse of the page the dragons are again sketched below the earth-circle, and crushed beneath the feet of the Savior, whose form thus serves as a background and support to the circuit of the earth, as in the Ebstorf example and in so many other medieval European pictures. The border that surrounds the map is almost identical in design with that of the Hereford; but the Psalter border is executed in pure Romanesque, the Hereford in Gothic. This fact helps us date the former at least fifty years earlier than the latter, i.e., ca.1250 A.D. (some authorities date the Psalter as early as 1225 A.D.).
The ocean appears as a watery zone, of equal breadth in every part, encircling the world. The various winds, each represented by a head, as in the Hereford map and on the Paris III-Beatus of 1250, are designed in suitable places along the outer rim of ocean. This sort of plan is also prominent in later works, like the mappamundi of Ranulf Higden . In the titles of these winds, the draftsman of the Psalter map is unusually and severely classical, giving us the famous old names of Aquilo and Septentrio for the North, Zephyrus for the West, Auster or Nothus for the south and Eurus or Euro-Nothus for the East and Southeast. The term Vulturnus, usually applied by classical writers to the southeast wind, is assigned rather to the North-North-East by the Psalter draftsman.
The Mediterranean, Black Sea, Propontis, Caspian and Red Sea are all represented; the waters of the Levant show unusual exaggeration; the Euxine [Black Sea] is brought (as often elsewhere) very close to the Northern Ocean. The coast from the delta of the Nile round to Caesarea is grossly distorted, almost resembling the shore of a lake. The Caspian appears as a narrow indent of the Northern Ocean, divided in two by a long peninsula (in the extreme northeast of Asia), and encircled by the greatest mountain-wall in the world (the region of Gog - Magog), pierced apparently at one point by the Gates of Alexander.
While centered precisely on Jerusalem, Paradise, in the Far East, is conceived in a somewhat exceptional manner. The sun pours out of its mouth the flood waters which flows through the Garden of Eden, and supplies the five sacred rivers; for the author has entered both the Ganges and the Phison in this list. Usually tradition identifies four sacred rivers, using either the Ganges or Phison . The heads of Adam and Eve appear within the enclosure, which seems to be marked off with lofty and symmetrical mountains. The Tree of Temptation is roughly drawn between the two faces. (Bevan and Phillot, Medieval Geography, xlii, suggest the Arbre Sec, which they make identical with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; and Yule, Marco Polo, II.397, refers us to legendary language about the Dry Tree which would perhaps support such an identification; - 'in the midst of Paradise was a fountain, whence flowed four rivers, and over the fountain a great Tree bare of bark and leaves').
The trees of the Sun and Moon are here separately indicated, close to Paradise on the south; while the Tigris flows direct from Paradise to the Indian Ocean, and the Euphrates (or rather one of two rivers so named) enters a mountain chain west of Paradise, named Orcatoten, and thence flows to the Persian Gulf. Of the Nile only the Egyptian portion is given. The Arae Liberi et Colimae Herculi[s] occurs near the Indus, but the Arae Alexandri are near the border of Europe; Albania, in northeast Asia, recalls the Anglo-Saxon or Cottoniana map ; Cyropolis, near the Caspian, is perhaps for Cyreschata on the Jaxartes, famous for Alexander's siege; Sclaveni occidentales, near the Black Sea, are suggestive of much more modern times, like the island of Norvegia. The Arabian and Persian Gulfs appear to be melted into one by the draftsman of the Psalter map, and in the same great indent he has put the ocean, off the coast of India, filled with large islands. The Ganges has an utterly false direction, flowing from the northern mountains, not into the sea, but to Paradise, like one of the two Euphrates rivers, here delineated. Northwest Africa is marked off, like the northeast of Asia, by a belt, which was perhaps intended for mountains, as in the other case, but remains as a mere linear mark with the legend, Sandy and Desert Land.
A zone of monstrous races runs along the southern coast of Africa. Among the monsters of this region are Dog-headed Folk and people with heads in various stages of aggressiveness, having either descended between their shoulders or else absorbed the entire trunk of the body. Besides these there are cannibals, a race with six fingers, Troglodytes, Serpent-eaters, Skiapodes, and a nation that obtained shadow from the hugeness not of their foot but of their lip; tribes also without tongues, without ears, or without noses; others who, having only a little hole for mouths, were forced to suck their food through a reed; Maritime Aethiops with four eyes; and beings who never walked, but crawled on hands and feet. These races, fourteen in all, come mostly from Solinus; many of them occur also on Ebstorf, on Hereford, or on both.
The draftsman's excessive regard for a literal interpretation of the Old and New Testaments explains the orbo-centric position of Jerusalem. In fact much the same reason may be used to account for the Psalter's eastern orientation. So many biblical references and place-names within Palestine and adjacent Bible lands are given that this area occupies more than a third of Asia. The Ark of Noah appears very clearly on a mountain of Armenia, and a large fish swims in the middle of the Sea of Galilee, perhaps as a reminiscence of the New Testament history. The Barns of Joseph, close to Babylon and Egypt, show us that our artist has heard of the Pyramids. The most famous cities of the ancient world, and the most famous sites of the Bible, are nearly all represented; while the immense and symmetrical Jerusalem, in the very middle of the world, forms a perfect center to an exact circle.
The closest relation of the Psalter map is the Ebstorf, which is probably junior by at least half a century; but the former is remarkable for a number of old names which do not occur on the maps of either Ebstorf or Hereford. Its delineation of the monstrous races of the south show a more antique character, and so probably a closer relationship to the common 11th (?) century original. This original probably contained many names and legends, attached to various indications of cities and natural features, which have only partially survived in the derivatives. In the text of the Psalter map there seems to exist a very imperfect copy of this original, both in amount and style, though it gives us an astonishingly large mass of matter for its size. In its delineation the world-picture the Psalter perhaps reproduces its model better than in its text; the scribe was presumably better as a draftsman than as a scholar.
The Psalter and Ebstorf also have a curiously similar treatment of the Caspian Rampart (otherwise Alexander's Wall, the Hyrcanian Mountains, or Barrier of the Jews - some scholars believe that this feature is actually the reflection of a vague or confused reference to the Great Wall of China), shutting in the Gog-Magogs and other monsters of the North; but the Gates of Alexander are more clearly marked on the Psalter than anywhere else in this family of maps. The two bays that run off northward from the Erythraean indent of the ocean are somewhat unusual in their position and conception; one corresponds to the upper part of the Persian Gulf, the other to the sea at the mouth of the Indus, the Gulf and Runn of Cutch, or perhaps the Gulf of Cambay. On the Psalter, Jerome, Hereford and Ebstorf maps alike, Africa stretches round very close to the neighborhood of India; and further similarities may be observed in the unnatural abridgement of the three major peninsulas of southern Europe: Greek, Spanish and Italian.
With the Hereford map the textual correspondence is almost as noticeable as with the Ebstorf map; the difference in cartographic form are often probably mere arbitrary eccentricities of the designer. One may consider this little circular plan, so minute in scale, so immense in the quantity of its details, as a sort of bridge or transition between the types represented by Ebstorf, Hereford and Henry of Mainz. At the same time, like Ebstorf and Hereford, it stands much further away from the Jerome maps than does the work of Henry; but, with the Jerome map of the orient, it helps us to fill in the gap which has been left in the Far East of the Ebstorf example. Perhaps the Trees of the Sun and Moon, as shown on the Psalter, correspond to the Pillars of Alexander and of Hercules in the original design.
Outside its own 'family', the Psalter map has some points of agreement both with Lambert of St. Omer and with Beatus . Of modern names it gives us several in Europe, one in Africa, but none in Asia. The most interesting of these are Damietta, in an entirely wrong position; the Ruscitae or Russians, perhaps derived from the Ruzzia of Adam of Bremen, the Olcus or Volga, the 'Land of the Western Slavs', Ala or Halle in Germany and three names in Britain, viz. Scotland, Walni [Wales] and Cornwall.
In coloration, the Psalter map shows seas in green (except the Red Sea which is colored red), the rivers are blue, and the relief is represented by natural-colored lobed chains. The settlements are displayed as ocher triangles. (British Library)
Beazley, C., The Dawn of Modern Geography, volume II
Destombes, M., Mappemondes, A.D. 1200-1500
Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography, Volume One
Harvey, P.D.A., Medieval Maps
Humble, R., The Explorers, The Seafarers
Kimble, G., Geography of the Middle Ages
|Ebstorf mappamundi, 1234 Gervase of Tilbury (oriented with East at the top)|
Ebstorf Mappamundi , ca. 1234 , Gervase of Tilbury
This map of the world, like its English counterpart, the Hereford mappamundi produced later in the same century , sums up a medieval European-Christian cartographic tradition that began with the illustrations by Cosmas Indiopleutes in the 6th century A.D. . Its name stems from the fact that it was preserved in a Benedictine monastery in Ebstorf, near Illzen on the Lüneburg Heath, until its discovery in 1830. Fifteen years later it became a possession of the Historisches Verein für Niedersachsen [Museum of the Historical Society of Lower Saxony] in Hanover, Germany where it remained until 1888. It was then removed to Berlin for restoration, at which point it was separated into thirty vellum sheets and photographed in black and white (the only remaining full- sized photographic reproduction). Originally, the map consisted of 30 sheets of vellum that had an overall measurement of 3.58 X 3.56 meters (or a map area of about 12 feet in diameter), the largest mappamundi to have been recorded. As can be seen, a few sheets were already missing, therefore, in order to facilitate the map's preservation, it was redivided into its separate sheets. Unfortunately, this original Ebstorf map became a casualty of the bombing in 1943 over Hanover Germany during World War II, but not before facsimiles and photographs had reproduced the essential features of this important historical document.
From external contemporary sources it has been deduced that the author of this map was probably Gervase of Tilbury, an English teacher of canon law in Bologna, who was later (1223-1234) in the service of the Guelphs as a provost in Ebstorf. He is also known as the author of a historical-geographical-mythological work, the Otia Imperiala, written in 1211 and still extant; however, the geographical map which this manuscript should have contained is now absent. It is probable, though unconfirmed, that the map now known as the Ebstorf map is the missing one from this earlier text. The date that the Ebstorf map bears is not quite clear: 12-4, thus rendering its time of production subject to much speculation, although most authorities agree at placing the date before mid-13th century.
Although its main intended use was to demonstrate the historical events in the Christian life - for example, the burial places of Mark, Bartholomew, Philip, and Thomas are shown - the author also had some more directly practical use in mind, as he himself made clear. In the upper right-hand corner of the map, he writes: "it can be seen that [this work] is of no small utility to its readers, giving directions for travellers, and the things on the way that most pleasantly delight the eye". We also find an allusion to the traditional cartographic proclamation of Julius Caesar: "How Julius Caesar first constructed [a mappamundi], for the breadth of the whole earth, legates having been sent, collecting the regions, provinces, islands, cities, quicksands, marshes, plains, mountains, and rivers as if to be seen on one page".
The sources drawn upon by the cartographer are varied and cover a considerable span of time. Among the ancients Gervase relied more upon popular, highly-colored source material such as the Alexander Romance and the writings of Mela and the elder Pliny than on more dependable authorities such as Herodotus. Also inherited from the classical writers were the division of the earth into three parts, and the twelve circles traced in the cosmic ocean - the homes of the twelve winds. Ancient Roman technique has influenced the structure of the map. Like the Roman road-plans, it puts things and places in the approximate order in which a traveller would come across them, regardless of the exact measurements. The map also draws most lavishly of all upon Christian sources. The Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the holy legends, and all the other elements of this magnificent synopsis of early medieval cosmography are made to fit into the Christian horizon.
In addition to the classical and religious sources, the author also shows familiarity with some writings current in his time, such as Johannes of Wurzburg (ca. 1165) for Palestine and Adam of Bremen (ca. 1072) in Northwest Europe. Other near contemporary sources include the maps and legends from the Imago Mundi of Honorius Augustodunensis (ca. 1129) and various tales of the 11th and 12th centuries such as that of the island discovered by St. Brendan of Ireland. These latter sources resulted in a certain degree of accurate detail in the areas of Palestine and Europe; and the continent of Africa could no longer be accommodated in the quadrant traditionally allocated to it and extends eastward, displacing part of Asia. But these contemporary influences are minimal and the dominate religious medieval imagination wove its fantasies around facts. Therefore, as will be seen in the following description of the map, we find places and names reflecting the cartographer's attempt to interpret, pictorially, reports of far away places and strangely misshapen peoples.
The major design feature upon which the Ebstorf map is based is the classic T-O scheme, but with elaborate additions of both a fabulist and religious nature. It may possibly have been used as an altar piece at one time, "no doubt intended both for instruction and for pious meditation upon the endless miracles wrought by God". The world-picture is superimposed on a background of the figure of Christ crucified; with His head at the top (East), His feet at the bottom (West) and His hands pointing North and South, an orientation that dominated medieval European cartography.
ASIA: Prominently displayed at the very heart of the map is Jerusalem, the place of man's redemption, showing Christ rising from the tomb; and from that point there stretches in an upward direction - that is to say eastward, towards the rising sun and the Savior's head - the continent of Asia with all its marvels. Here, inaccessible behind a towering range of mountains, lies the Garden of Eden with the Tree of Life,the four rivers of Paradise, and the Tree of Knowledge. Below this the Ganges, fed by eleven tributaries, flows through a tropical landscape. To the left of Eden, and at a lower level, is the land of the Seres [the Chinese], also hemmed in with mountains, though outside their circling ring two Chinese are seen gathering silkworms for their most sought-after article of trade. In the upper Ganges valley India displays one of its innumerable curiosities: a member of the peaceable tribe of Apple Smellers who subsist entirely by inhaling the fragrance of that fruit. To the right, close beside the head of Christ, stand two Trees of Prophecy beneath which Alexander the Great, explorer of India, is consulting the Oracle of the Sun and Moon. Below him is to be seen a member of the Gymnosophists [a sun-gazer], whose eyes are fixed, unblinking, on the radiant. Higher up, to the right, is the land of the Prasii, whose number is as the poppies of the field which serve as their emblem.
An extensive area of northern Asia is cut off by the sweeping curve of the Caucasus. Its principal feature is a territory that projects as a rectangle into the cosmic ocean. This is the home of the dreaded man-eaters Gog and Magog, symbols of all the hordes of oppressors that might at any time overwhelm peaceful humanity. The castellated lines indicate the walls that Alexander the Great was reputed to have built here for extra protection. Slightly lower down and to the west the map-maker has placed the country of the Amazons, guarded by two doughtily armed queens; and still further westwards, under Christ's right hand, stand the flaming altars of Alexander which mark the northern extremity of the world as it was known to the ancients. Looking due south - that is, to the right - from the land of the Amazons, we come first to the city of Colchis on the Black Sea; the golden fleece, which Jason sailed to seek, still hangs from its tower. Above, and to the right, is Ararat, identified by Noah's stranded ark; and this brings us back to the revered regions of the Bible, with which the designer of the map appears to be well acquainted. On the right is the mighty Tower of Babel, in Mesopotamia, and below it, near Jerusalem, are a number of places mentioned in the Scriptures and described by homecoming pilgrims and Crusaders. In fact the Ebstorf cartographer had to enlarge Palestine a good deal, so as to fit in all of the 'indispensable features': Bethlehem with the star, the ox and the ass; above that the accursed cities Sodom and Gomorrah, with the waves of the Dead Sea curving over them; higher still, on the Arabian Gulf, Mount Sinai with the phoenix rising from the flames.
Wilma George describes, in what she labels the Oriental Region, the array of zoological information to be found on this pictorial encyclopedia. There are snakes, a parrot, an antelopes with long serrated horns, very difficult to approach, probably the blackbuck Antilope ceruicapra, with long corkscrew horns, noted for its speed and still occurring abundantly in Asia, obvious to travellers and hunters because of its diurnal habits. The ant-dog, saiga and chameleon also come into this region, marginally. The saiga, Saiga tatarica, once swarmed over central Asia and its horns were much prized by the Chinese for medicinal purposes. It has the required proboscis-like upper lip: alce mulo similis superius habens labrum tam prominens ut pasci nequeat si non post terga recedat as the Ebstorf map states. An inscription also announces the presence of snakes, tortoises, unicorns, Indian Bulls, ibexes and the manticora but there are no pictures of them. Finally, there is an animal with one horn pointing forward and one backward. This is the eale or yale. The yale which, according to the Ebstorf map itself, comes from India, has a body like that of a horse, the jaws of a goat, the tail of an elephant, horns of a cubit in length, one of which can be reflected backwards as the other is presented forwards in attack, and which can move equally on water or on land. This description on the map follows closely the original description of a yale by Pliny which was then copied by Solinus, about 250 A.D., through to the near contemporaries of the Ebstorf and Hereford mapmakers: for example, the author of Semeianca del Mundo about 1223 and the authors of 12th and 13th century bestiaries.
AFRICA: This continent is depicted as little more than a segment of a circle, its north and west coasts extending in an almost straight line from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, while its south and east coasts describe a shallow curve. Its principal feature is the Nile River, bordered by famous ancient cities, strange beasts and even stranger men. The Nile flows out of a lake, in the vicinity of Morocco and near the spot where lies the Garden of the Hesperides - included as a heathen anti-thesis to the Christian Paradise - within the protecting coils of the feathered serpent, its guardian. The river's course runs at first from west to east, through regions inhabited by panthers, ostriches, giant reptiles and so forth; in all, the artist has generously scattered about sixty different animals over his map. Other animals identified by Ms. George include an elephant, leopard, hyena, mirmicaleon, monkeys, camelopardalis, scarp, deer and tarandrius the reindeer with many types of snake, crocodiles, lizard and flying lizard, ibis and other birds which inhabit what she calls the Ethiopian Region for zoological analysis.
Approaching the eastern tip of the continent, the Nile disappears into the sand; but it emerges to flow in the opposite direction through Egypt, first skirting the region of Meroë (inhabited by dwarfs who ride on crocodiles). At its mouth stands the cities such as Berenice, Leptis Magna and Ocea lie here and there along the northern and Atlantic coasts of the continent. Off the west coast the cartographer has placed an empty rectangle to mark the position of the insula perdita [lost island] where the seafaring St. Brandan discovered what he called Paradise. But rubbing shoulders, as it were, in the southern portion of Africa we find the most weird and wonderful assortment of creatures: the race that does not know the use of fire; the race that has neither nose nor mouth and can converse only by gestures; giants; people with four eyes; people whose upper lips are so huge that they can pull them up over their heads to serve as sunshades; troglodytes riding like the wind on stags (these are level with Christ's hand); Artobatites who constantly fall on their faces as they walk along; four-footed men; snake-charmers on whom poison has no effect; dog-headed men; the centaur Chiron; cave-dwelling giants; and so forth. The illustrations thus described as occurring on the Ebstorf map also appear in very similar form and content on both the Hereford and Psalter .
EUROPE: On this more familiar continent, there are none of the mythical and monstrous figures that are seen in the more remote regions of Africa and Asia. However, this area receives the same stylized and generalized treatment with regards to any attempt to display real coastlines or detail. The countries that border the Mediterranean with its sprinkling of islands, while still over stylized, are nonetheless identifiable. The western-most country displayed is Spain; then come the Pyrenees, turning off at right angles to the Rhone and stretching straight towards the Atlantic. North of these is Gaul [France] land of many rivers and towns, including Parisius, off whose northern coast lie the islands of Albion [Britain] and Hibernia-Scotia [Ireland-Scotland]. In Italy, to north and west of which the Alps curve in a semicircle, we are shown the city of Rome, where seven churches stand within a surrounding wall that has sixteen towers, and Venice, jutting out into the Adriatic. The heart-shaped island lying not far off is Sicily, so the land round which the Mediterranean sweeps northwards must be the Greek peninsula. What is now Switzerland was also known to our author by hearsay; in the northern foothills of the Alps, due north of Rome, he has painted a tower and written Curia against it, this is the town of Chur. Below, on a great bend of the Rhine, are Oberzell, Mittelzell and Niederzell, places on the island of Reichenau. To the north of these the Danbue is formed by the confluence of five streams and flows on its way past Urbs Salis [Salzburg], Pattavia [Passau] and Wena [Vienna]. One piece of the map is missing, to the left of the Danbue, where Lubeck and Hamburg should be. To the northeast, in what George calls the Palearctic Region, elk and ures or aurocks, the wild ox of Europe, denote the confines of Russia. Other fauna identified with this region include the bonacus, probably the European bison, the horse, possibly the saiga antelope, two humped camel, lion, tiger, and other large cats, bear, ant-dog, some snakes, a chameleon and the gryphe, probably the golden eagle and other birds (again, the ant-dog, saiga and chameleon are marginally in the Oriental Region also).
Some scholars, such as Beazley, dismiss this map as merely a gross exaggeration of the already unscientific medieval cartography. True, the Ebstorf map does not present any breakthroughs of either a cartographic or geographic nature. Like most of the other surviving medieval European maps, its content is entirely lacking a genuine scientific attitude, its coastlines are over generalized; contemporary discoveries or geographical knowledge represent only a small part of the whole; and the profusion of illustrations are used, to some extent, merely to substitute for factual knowledge of relatively unknown, unfamiliar, far distant regions. However, its real historical value lies in other areas and, viewed in terms of the cartographer's intent, this map does demonstrates genuine historical value. To begin with, the Ebstorf map is like a geographical romance in pictures; it is comprehensive in design, admirable in execution, all of which supports its fundamental concern, to establish a relationship between this world and the hereafter. As mentioned earlier, the Ebstorf map built upon a tradition that begins with works like Cosmas Indicopleustes' sketches and is carried on in the maps of St. Isidore, Beatus, Henry of Mainz, in the Psalter map, and is continued later by the Hereford map, a tradition that sought the propagation of the Christian Faith. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is well documented and supported by this map. The Ebstorf cartographer accomplishes here what early medieval writers like St. Isidore of Seville attempted to do with mere words, to describe the sum total of accumulated knowledge about man's habitat, the world, resulting in a comprehensive pictorial encyclopedia, albeit through the rather narrow focus of a religious context. In many ways it does portray the world as it was seen by a great many medieval Europeans. "In no other work of this period, perhaps, either in the graphic arts or in literature, was so comprehensive a picture of the entire medieval world presented, in such a narrow space, as in this map of ours. So it is well worth while studying it closely and repeatedly and trying to discover new items, hitherto unnoticed, among the immense variety of its features", writes Walter Rosien, one of the leading authorities on the Ebstorf map.
Curiously enough, one must consider that, like many of the other significant maps and texts of the so-called Dark Ages, the Ebstorf map serves also as an aid to our understanding of the period of great discoveries which began some two centuries after its completion. For the outlook of the early Portuguese navigators, and that of Columbus too, was conditioned by what they had imbibed of both the ancient and medieval concepts of the world, as represented in the available maps. Sailing to find the sea route round the Cape of Good Hope, the Portuguese were amazed to discover that the coast of Africa, which looked so short on the existing maps, went on and on without curving eastwards; as late as 1505 the bold seafarer Duarte Pacheco, though a perfectly reliable observer of facts on his own behalf, took for granted the existence of mile-long serpents; and Columbus, coming to the mouth of the Orinoco, thought that he had discovered one of the four rivers that watered the Garden of Eden in Asia. The impressions of the world, therefore, recorded by the scientific attitude of Ptolemy and those in the Ebstorf map, both lie, though at different depths, in the twilight zone between experience and dream. Each of them bears noble witness, in its own great cultural epoch, to a great historical process with many ups and downs, to man's growing awareness of the world around him. (original destroyed during World War II)
Matthew Paris' world map, 1250. (oriented with East at the top)
Maps of Matthew Paris: the World , ca. 1250 A.D. , Matthew Paris (1195-1259)
In the 12th and early 13th century, the monastery of St. Albans in England possessed what may be called an historical school, or institute, which was then the chief center of English narrative history or chronicle, and with a different environment might have become the nucleus of a great university. Among the writers of this school, the greatest was a Benedictine monk Matthew Paris, whose three chief works contain various maps and plans unsurpassed in European medieval geography, before the rise of the portolani [nautical charts]. Thus, in the Historia Major, or Cronica Majora, we have the so-called Itinerary to the Holy Land, or Stationes a Londinio ad Hierosolymam, as well as a mappamundi, a map of Palestine, and the first of Matthew's four maps of England. Again, in the Historia Minor, or Historia Anglorum, there is another form of the Palestine Itinerary, the second and third maps of England, and the Situs Britanniae. Lastly, in the History of St. Albans, a portion of the supposed Pilgrim-road, as far as southern Italy, is given in another shape, together with the Schema Britanniae.
Matthew Paris, therefore, appears as the author of six geographical designs; a world-map, in two slightly different forms; a map of England, in four variants; a purely conventional sketch of the Heptarchy, in the form of a Rose des Vents; a plan, or schema, of the Roman roads of the same country; a 'routier' to Apulia from the English Court; and a map of Palestine, which tradition has wrongly joined with the former, to make a Pilgrim Itinerary from London to Jerusalem.
Matthew Paris' world map, unlike his England , according to Beazley is of small value geographically or cartographically, though it is curiously different from all other medieval designs. It measures 34.8 X 23.6 cm and seems to have been constructed on "projections" approaching the azimuthal logarithmic, where the central part of the map (of most interest) is enlarged in scale. It contains about 80 legends and perhaps its most interesting feature is an inscription, placed in the neighborhood of Mount Taurus, which alludes to the three great wall-maps existing in or near London at this time (ca.1250). One of these is ascribed to a certain Robert of Melkeley; another is called the mappamundi of Waltham in Essex; the third is termed the property of the Lord King at his court in Westminster. Yet compared to Matthew's England, his surviving mappamundi is a disappointment; and if we were to assume that his wall-maps at Westminster and elsewhere presented merely the same features on a larger scale, there would be less reason, according to Beazley, to regret the loss of these Orbes picti..
The coloring of the Paris mappamundi is mostly red for place-names, except those in the Mediterranean, such as Tyre, which lie to the right of the Adriatic; these are colored black. Mountains are portrayed in ochre, rivers in blue, for the most part; and the Mediterranean Sea in colored green. Like most other medieval maps, but unlike his England, Paris' mappamundi is oriented with the East at the top.
Again, according to Beazley, the chief thing worthy of remark in this world-map is its limitation. For it is not really a mappamundi, but rather a sketch of Europe and the adjacent coasts; only the extreme northern edge of Africa is portrayed; as to the parts of Asia here given, the author has so little intention of working them out in detail, that he covers most of the spaces with the inscription mentioned above, about the three wall-maps. In this region (Asia) Paris depicts a broad arm of the sea running west from the Euxine [Black Sea]. The Palus Maeotis is represented by two lakes near the North Ocean, into which they throw a river. Even in Europe the detail is wanting; its northern coast is absolutely straight, and apparently follows the requirements of the sheet or page without attempting to represent the actual shoreline. Many unnamed rivers occur in Europe; the only ones that are named are the Rhone, Danube and Elple [Scheldt]. For more contemporary names there are Hungaria, Polonia, Austria, Saxonia, Bavaria, Theutonia, Braibe [for Brabant]; Dacia [for Denmark]; and the towns of Cologne, Pisa, Bologna and Janua [Genoa].
The text has some resemblance to the Hereford and Ebstorf maps (especially the latter), and to Lambert of St. Omer, Henry of Mainz, the Psalter and the Cottoniana . Most of the newer names may be found on Ebstorf, as, for instance, Holland, Burgundy, Flanders, Austria, Poland, Venice, Bavaria, Metis, Hierapolis, Teutonia; but, after all, the great mass of name-forms in this mappamundi are old.
The form of the design is, on the contrary, novel and peculiar, it has some relation to Henry of Mainz and Lambert of St. Omer maps; the former of whom is not unlike Matthew in his islands, his Italy, and his Balkan Peninsula with its curious western projection; while the latter gives a similar course to the Danube flowing into the North Sea; but the present scheme must not be regarded as a derivative of either of these, but rather as itself a stem-form not directly borrowed from any other plan that has come down to us.
The western littoral is scarcely better; England, which Matthew knew so well, is entirely omitted; and it would be difficult to rate the compiler's geography at a high level, if we only possessed this design, and could not also refer to the four maps that he has left us of his native country. (Mappamundi - Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)
Hereford mappamundi, 1290 (facsimile) (oriented with East at the top)
The Hereford Mappamundi , ca. 1290 A.D. , Richard de Bello
This is the largest map of its kind to have survived in tact and in good condition from such an early period of cartography. It has been preserved in the Hereford Cathedral (England) for almost 700 years, and, besides its antiquity, it is notable for the quality of its workmanship and for the variety of the drawings which adorn it. For this map the entire entire skin of a calf had to be properly treated to make writing and coloring possible. Calfskin prepared in this manner is called vellum (from the Latin word vitulus, a calf). The vellum, measuring 1.65 X 1.35 m, is attached to a framework of oak, the actual map being set in a 1.32 m diameter circle. Although it bears no date, it is possible, from what is known of Richard's life and from a study of the map, to say that in its present form it was probably finished between 1285 and 1295. There is a reference (unusual for any medieval map) to its authorship, in a note in the bottom left-hand corner (in translation):
Let all who have this history,
Or shall hear or read or see it,
Pray to Jesus in His Divinity,
To have pity on Richard of Haldingham and Lafford,
Who has made and planned it,
To whom joy in heaven be granted.
These place names are in Lincolnshire (Holdingham and Sleaford are the modern forms), and this Richard has been identified as one Richard de Bello, prebend of Lafford in Lincoln Cathedral about the year 1283, who later became an official of the Bishop of Hereford, and in 1305 was appointed prebend of Norton in Hereford Cathedral. Nothing certain is known of his activities after 1313, and it is probable that he died soon after (1326), bequeathing his map to the cathedral.
While the map was compiled in England, names and descriptions were written in Latin, with the Norman dialect of old French used for special entries. The circle of the world is set in a somewhat rectangular frame background with a pointed top, and an ornamented border of a zig-zag pattern often found in psalter-maps of the period. Inside the border-frame are drawings illustrating some basic premises of Richard's map. At the head of the frame is a representation of the Day of Judgement, with the figure of Christ displaying the scars of His crucifixion in the center. Standing on the right of Christ an angel holds a cross in one hand and three nails in the other. At Christ's feet is a group of four figures including the Virgin Mary. Here she displays her breasts and makes her plea, the wording in Norman-French:
Here, my dear Son, my bosom is whence you took flesh Here are my breasts from which you sought a Virgin's milk Show pity, as you said you would, on all Who their devotion paid to me for you made me Savioress.
The other three figures consist of a woman placing a crown on the Virgin Mary and two angels on their knees in supplication. On Christ's right-hand side is an angel who calls to the blessed dead (her words issuing through a trumpet) Arise and come to everlasting bliss. The line of figures to the left of this angel represents those who have arisen from their graves and includes the leading angel, a bishop, a crowned king, a monk, three nuns, and two persons coming out of opened graves. On Christ's left hand another angel pronounces doom on the lost, also through a trumpet, Arise and go into hell-fire prepared for you. Six lost souls, roped together, are being dragged to the devil, who has wings, horns, and hooves; to be passed on to an evil spirit and consigned to the jaws of hell (quite literally the open jaws of a monster with menacing teeth and glaring eyes is shown awaiting them). A strange figure seems to be desperately trying to escape from the jaws, after arising from his grave.
Still within this decorative border, in the left-hand bottom corner, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus is enthroned and crowned with a papal triple tiara and delivers a mandate with his seal attached, to three named commissioners. The seal, inscribed S. Augusti Caesaris Imperatoris authorizes Nicodoxus, Theoclitus, and Polyclitus to survey the world and report to the senate. The text of the edict, Exiit edictum ab Augusto Cesare ut describeretur huniversus orbis (Luke 2:1) is above Caesar's head. The modern translation reads: In those days a decree was issued by the emperor Augustus for a registration to be made throughout the Roman world. The meaning of the word describeretur involves not simply registration but a survey, leading perhaps to a confusion by the author of the Hereford map between the two events (and the two Caesars). Pliny alludes to a large world map by Vipsanius Agrippa displayed in Rome at the time of the emperor Augustus (ca. A.D. 14), which may have resulted from the survey of the provinces ascribed by tradition to Julius Caesar. It is in this corner also that Richard de Bello makes his plea for the prayers of all who see his estorie, as he calls his map.
In the right-hand bottom corner an unidentified rider parades with a following forester holding a pair of greyhounds on a leash. A faded inscription above the rider's head states that a description of the world from Orosius' history is portrayed within the circle: Descriptio Orosii de ornesta mundi sicut interius ostenditur [Orosius' description of the ornesta of the world; the word ornesta is thought to refer generically to medieval maps]. Paulus Orosius was an early 5th century A.D. historian who wrote a history against pagans that was made popular in England by a translation of King Alfred's. The entire pictorial background to this world map found within this frame is, therefore, informative, explanatory, and useful as an introduction to it.
The geographical form and content of the Hereford map is derived from the writings of Pliny, Solinus, Augustine, Strabo, Jerome, the Antonine Itinerary, St. Isidore, and Orosius. However, the overriding theme is that of a religious one, as can be seen not only from the drawings just described, but also from the following description of the map itself. In design, the Hereford map can be labelled a modified and extremely elaborate T-O plan .
Double circles are drawn concurrently with the circular world. These give the points of the compass and twelve winds. The four cardinal points are marked by encircled squatting figures and minor points by eight encircled animals' heads, a section for each wind. The outer circle is divided into four sections. The East is at the top, Oriens (the rising sun); the South on the right, Meridiens (mid-day); the West at the bottom, Occidens (the setting sun); the North on the left, Septentrio (the seven stars of the Great Bear). The inner circle, divided into twelve sections, contains the table of winds, derived from Timosthenes a Greek admiral of the 3rd century B.C. Four large golden letters in Lombardic script are looped to the inner circle by ligatures; they spell M-O-R-S (mors) the Latin word for death. They are a reminder that life is mortal and that the world is dominated by death, an essential part of the spiritual message of the Hereford map. The letters also have a practical value in locating the points of the compass within the inner circle. M and O give the clue to Oriens, O and R to Meridiens, R and S to Occidens, S and M to Septentrio.
As is traditional with the T-O design, there is the tripartite division of the known world into three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. As previously mentioned, East is at the top of the map, and the whole is surrounded by the uncrossable great ocean. The following is an analysis of the five main areas of the map itself: Asia, Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and the allegorical features; each area being treated separately.
ASIA: This "continent" forms the upper, eastern portion, of the map; actually consuming more than half as it encompasses the 'world-center' Jerusalem. The letters A. S. I. A., in red, are hard to locate being widely separated, placed vertically from the Garden of Eden to Jerusalem. During the Middle Ages, when clerics were engaged in rediscovering and annotating the writings of their predecessors, certain additions and alterations were made to the then existent Roman maps. The practice of placing the East at the top was acceptable to the Church, owing to the special sanctity attached to that quarter, and, Paradise, shown here as an island, was inserted at this point. On the Hereford map there is a drawing of Adam, Eve and the serpent, and below to the right, the expulsion from the Garden. These same Churchmen, in accordance with scriptural texts, placed Jerusalem in the center of the world: This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are around her (Ezekiel V:5). They also wished to show as much detail in the Holy Land as possible, consequently the area allotted to Palestine was disproportionately enlarged. Palestine on this map, as well as other parts of the map, have a number of Biblical places and incidents inserted, i.e., a pictorial crucifixion outside a walled-Jerusalem; the track of the people of Isreal from Egypt across the Red Sea to Jericho; the Ark on Arrat in the Armenian mountains; the granaries of Joseph (Joseph's Barns) as the pyramids were considered to be; the very conspicuous Tower of Babel; Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the tablets; Lot's wife; and the river Jordan flowing through to the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, where Sodom and Gomorrah lie submerged. Some of these details of the Holy Land were taken from itineraries made for the use of pilgrims.
On the right of Palestine is Egypt, which is included in ASIA. Here the Nile and its delta is shown, along with the sphinx and the pyramids. Cairo is misnamed Babylon, and Alexandria is depicted with its lighthouse. On the left of Palestine is Asia Minor, between the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, along with Troy, Laodicea, Antioch, and Noah's Ark..
The actual Babylon stands conspicuously in the middle as a multi-storied city. An enigmatic creature, perhaps the spirit of evil, protrudes from one side, the Tower of Babel is near at hand, the Euphrates River flows into the city and out the other side. A long description gives details of the origin of this city with mighty walls and 100 gates. Above Babylon is India in gold letters, a country of mountains and rivers, dragons, giants and pygmies, and strange beasts and birds. Above India is the Garden of Eden with four rivers flowing from it which submerge (to prevent men from finding their way back to Paradise) to reappear as the legendary sources of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates which are shown flowing south to the Persian Gulf; the river Ganges which is shown flowing east forming a delta before reaching the ocean, and the Nile. To the left of India, in northwest Asia, across mountain ranges which may represent the Himalayas, are the Chinese, called Seres, with a reference to their silk as an article of export. To the right of India is Arabia, the Red Sea and Persian Gulf extending to the ocean enclosing the island of Ceylon at the base.
In the Middle Ages scholars were also greatly interested in the exploits of Alexander the Great who became legendary, therefore a number of drawings and inscriptions in Asia are associated with him: i.e., five bell-tents, the central one with a cross, rising from an altar-style base on the boundary between Asia and Africa; a gateway with opened doors at the end of an eight-mile mountain pass, representing the Caspian Gates through which Alexander was said to have passed on his way north; the city of Choolissima, conventionally drawn, capital of the land of Magog, taken by Alexander after a long siege; two islands in the northern ocean, Miopar and Mirabilis, appeased by presents and entreaties; the island of Terraconta inhabited by intractable cannibalistic Turks "from the stock of Gog and Magog" ; and finally the battlemented wall with which he imprisoned "the accursed descendants of Cain". Below this area is the land of the Scythian races. Obviously knowledge of this part of the world was very limited and the space was thus filled with dramatic pictures.
|Hereford mappamundi, 1290 detail: Africa (from facsimile) (oriented with East at the top)|
AFRICA: This continent is located in the lower portion of the map on the right. Strangely the name EUROPE in great gold letters stretches down the length of Africa, similarly Europe is labelled AFRICA. It should be noted that the extremities of Africa and Europe are correctly given in small writing, terminus Africe and terminus Europe. The most conspicuous feature in Africa is the blue band of the Nile running parallel with the ocean. The river begins as a lake near Mount Hesperus and apparently ends as a lake, but it submerges to reappear as the Lower Nile, forming Africa's eastern boundary. Behind the blue band of the river is a grim array of grotesque figures to indicate the existence of primitive peoples. On the north the continent is bounded by the Mediterranean, with cities along the coastline, notably Carthage facing its rival Rome across Sicily. Mons Mercurii opposite Crete is Cape Bon. It is clear that Africa has been drawn from information collected from maps and itineraries of the Roman Empire prior to 600 A.D. Consequently the Roman provinces are delineated, Libya, Tripolitania, Numidia, and Mauritania. The Atlas Mountains are shown forming a single peak. The ocean is dotted with islands, including the Canaries, Madeira and Teneriffe are called the Fortunate Islands, an allusion to their temperate climate.
EUROPE: When we turn to this area of the Hereford map we would expect to find some evidence of more contemporary 13th century knowledge and geographic accuracy than was seen in Africa or Asia, and, to some limited extent, this theory is true. By the 13th century trade and commerce were well developed, and travel throughout Europe was relatively easy. However this type of 'word-of-mouth' information is slow to be collected and eventually reflected on maps. Scholars, such as G.R. Crone, believe there to be about a two century lag between the actual circulating knowledge of the world and the geographical content on the Hereford map. Europe is not easily recognizable since actual coastlines are disregarded in this highly stylized format and the river systems seem to dominate. The Danube, Rhine, and Rhone are accurately shown rising in the Alps and flowing to their respective mouths. The Iberian and Italian peninsulas are not represented as such. Beginning with Spain, at the bottom-center, the Pyrenees form a line running north and south, with many rivers and towns displayed. Italy is merely a bulge between the Mediterranean and the Adriatic; the Alps are fairly accurate, with towns in the area being chiefly derived from the Antonine Itinerary. Rome is honored by a popular hexameter, Roma caput mundi tenet orbis frena rotundi [Rome, the head, holds the reins of the world].
Greece has its Mt. Olympus and such cities as Athens and Corinth; the Delphic oracle, misnamed Delos, is represented by a hideous head. Macedonia, Thrace, and Bulgaria are also shown in this area.
France, with the bordering regions of Holland and Belgium is called Gallia, and includes all of the land between the Rhine and the Pyrenees. Paris, owing to its famous university, has one of the most imposing castellated buildings on the entire map. Unfortunately, though, the area of France has been defaced by indelible scratching and scribbling, probably done at a time when anti-French feelings ran high in England. The Rhine, Moselle, Seine, and Loire are incorrectly given a general north-south direction, consequently displacing some sixty towns that occur near them.
Norway and Sweden are shown as a peninsula, divided by an arm of the sea, though their size and position are misrepresented. Norway, alone, is named, and there is a strange figure which seems to depict a man on snow skis, with an inscription, roughly translated, he runs on skis. There is only a vague conception of the form of the Baltic Sea. Germany is equally obscure and vague, Upper Germany is noted as being occupied by Slavic people, and Lower Germany has a note, this is Saxony. The principle rivers, the Rhine, Vistula, Ems, Weser, and Elbe are given, and the towns included are Bremen, Hamburg, Magdeburg, and Prague. North of the Danube is Dacia with a note, this is Russia, and a picture of a bear. The river Don forms the boundary between Europe and Asia.
On the other side of Europe, Iceland, the Faeroes, and Ultima Tile are shown grouped together north of Norway, perhaps because the restricting circular limits of the map did not permit them to be shown at a more correct distance. As can be seen, beyond the perimeter of the former Roman rule, the detail and accuracy is rather lacking. What contemporary knowledge the map does display of this area comes from the 11th century writer Adam of Bremen.
The British Isles are drawn on a larger scale than the neighboring parts of the continent, and this representation is of special interest on account of its early date. With the exception of four maps drawn by Matthew Paris, about 1250 , this is the earliest medieval attempt at a detailed map of these islands to have survived. The appearance of this portion of the Hereford map, in particular the narrow form of the English Channel and North Sea, strongly suggest that an existing map of the British Isles (probably not Matthew Paris') has been fitted into the general framework of this world map by cutting out a segment of the main land mass of Europe. This would explain the distortion of the coastline, particularly in southeast England, and perhaps also the complete omission of East Anglia. The circular shape of the map, again, no doubt accounts for the curved outlines of western Scotland and Ireland.
On the Hereford map, the areas retain their Latin names, Britannia insula and Hibernia, Scotia, Wallia, and Cornubia, and are neatly divided, usually by rivers, into compartments, North and South Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, England, and Scotland. Cathedral cities such as Durham, Lincoln, Hereford, and Canterbury are displayed; castles and towers such as London, Conway, Caernarvon, Dover, and Edinburgh, and the mountains of Snowdon and Grampians are just some of the exceptional detail included admist these special isles.
THE MEDITERRANEAN: The Mediterranean, conveniently separating the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, teems with islands associated with legends of Greece and Rome. Entering this sea from the encircling ocean is an island with two columns, the Pillars of Hercules, in the straits of Gibraltar. Then come the Balearic Islands, Majorca and Minorca, and Sardinia sandal-shaped to suit its name Sandaliotis. Triangular Sicily is easy to recognize with Mount Etna belching flames; its cities include Syracuse and Palermo. Between Sicily and Italy are the twin threats to mariners, the rock Scylla, a head with open jaws, and Charybdis the whirlpool. On the island of Crete concentric circles represent the labyrinth devised by Daedalus. Near the red letters Mare Mediterraneum is a mermaid, to the left of which is the island of Delos, surrounded with dots for the islets of the Cyclades. On the island of Rhodes the column of the Colossus still stands though it collapsed fifty years after erection. Cyprus, Lemnos with an ox-like creature above it, Troy a most war-like city is on the mainland, and Constantinople lies on the European side of the sea, but is upside down. The two upright fingers branching up from the Mediterranean are the Aegean and the Black Sea with the Golden Fleece at its extremity.
SUMMARY: According to most authorities, it is very probable that the Hereford map was copied in considerable detail from another, older map which was, as it were, a descendant of a Roman map drawn in the 4th or possibly even the first century A.D. Earlier, notice was made of the inscription in the border-frame of the Hereford map attributing a survey of the known world to Emperor Augustus. G.R. Crone points out that this reference has special significance because Augustus had also entrusted his son-in-law, M. Vipsanius Agrippa, with the task of designing a world map . Essentially a world map that emphasized the extent of the Roman Empire in the first century A.D., it was publicly displayed in Rome and praised by Pliny. An examination of the names of the countries, cities, and other features, and the details of the boundaries on the Hereford map shows that these are in great part of Latin origin. Agrippa's lost map, along with later ones of the Roman Empire, form the basis from which the Hereford map, together with medieval additions, illustrations and Christian symbolism, was constructed. Additional non-Biblical sources, some previously mentioned, include excerpts from Pliny and the Antonine Itinerary, from Orosius and Martianus Capella, from Solinus and the Aethici, from the Alexander Romance, and from certain Bestiaries and Herbaria. Richard draws from Ororius many of his general notions of the world-outline, and in particular refers to him on the position of the Ganges River, the course of the Nile, and the names of various mountain ranges in Asia and Africa. From Solinus he naturally takes most of his mirabilia; and from Isidore the chief part of his ethnology. Capella is especially used as a source in reference to the Mediterranean islands; Aethicus of Istria supplies material for the regions of the Far North.
It is thought by some scholars that this map was originally intended as a reredos, a decorative background for an altar; there were about twenty altars at that time in the cathedral at Hereford; in fact an 18th century writer described the mappamundi as "an ancient altar-piece". This would account for the more than normal emphasis on Christian features in its design. However, if the map were intended for an altar its construction would be a legitimate undertaking for a prebendary in cathedral precincts, and justify his use of cathedral documents, drawing equipment and pigments, but the idea of its being an altar-piece may have been 18th century conjecture. An alternative suggestion would be that it was designed for educational purposes, particularly to stress the teaching of the Christian faith. In either case the work was suitable for a prebendary. It should be emphasized that the mapmaker, Richard, was a cosmologist as well as a cartographer; that is he was explaining the world as well as drawing it. This was important because it can at a time when the general population as uneducated and very provincial. In the Hereford map they could revel in this pictorial description of the outside world, which taught natural history, classical legends, explained the winds and reinforced their religious beliefs.
GLOSSARY OF NATURAL HISTORY AND ABNORMAL PEOPLE
Translated inscriptions in italics Natural History:
ALERlON. Asia. Alerion the only pair in the world. Eagle-like birds of prey. Often represented without beak or feet. Heraldically like footless martlets. Coat-of-arms of Lorraine family.
ANTS. Africa. Here huge ants guard golden sand. Ants dig up gold and guard it.
BASILIK. Asia. Basilisk half a foot marked with white stripes. Hatched by a serpent from a cock's egg, and so also called cockatrice; its breath fatal. Reptile with head of cock, or triple-tufted crest like a royal crown, called basilisk from Greek word for king; King of the serpents. No cock's head in map.
BONNACON. Asia. In Phrygia there is born an animal called bonnacon; it has a bull's head, horse's mane and curling horns, when chased it discharges dung over an extent of three acres which burns whatever it touches. Identified with bison.
BUGLOSSA. France. A buffalo. From its literal meaning in Greek it also signifies the plant ox-tongue, so called from its shape and roughness of its leaves.
CAMEL (Bactrian). Asia. Bactria has very strong camels which never wear out their hooves. Arabian camels have one hump, Bactrian camels have two, as in the map. Camels prefer dirty water to fresh, detest horses, live a hundred years. Example of humility, they kneel to be loaded.
CENTAUR. Egypt. Fauns half-horse men. Centaur wrongly labelled faun; fauns were half goat, half men; centaurs half horse, half men; trunk and arms of man joined to body and legs of horse, as depicted in map. Idea of centaur probably derived from appearance of savage riders. Cavalry still called horsemen.
CIRENUS BIRD. Palestine. Unidentified, possibly cinnamologus, Arabian bird which feeds on cinnamon.
CROCODILE. Egypt. Name derived from crocus, of yellow color like saffron. Reputed to weep hypocritical tears when devouring its victim.
DRAGONS (Dracones). India. Golden mountains defended by dragons.
Mythical fire-breathing creature with wings, scales and claws; malevolent in west, benevolent in east. Heraldry, common. Welsh dragon.
ELEPHANT. India. India also has the largest elephants, whose teeth are supposed to be of ivory; the Indians use them in war with turrets (howdahs) set on them. Two species of elephant, the African and the smaller Indian. The chaste elephant and his wife represent Adam and Eve in the time of their innocence.
GRIFFINS (Gryphae). Asia. Arimaspi contend with griffins for emeralds. Griffins with heads and wings of eagles resemble lions in their bodies they will fly away with an ox. The idea of gigantic winged creatures might be taken from fossilized bones and horns thought to be the claws of monstrous birds.
As when a Gryphon through the wilderness
Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth
Had from his watchful custody purloined
The guarded gold. Milton; Paradise Lost II. 943.
LEOPARD. Africa. The offspring of a lion and panther mating, leo pardus. Member of cat family, nocturnal hunter.
LION. Africa. Roams on mountain tops; placed in the map between two mountain ranges. Sleeps with eyes open, an example to the Christian to be vigilant. Spares prostrate foe, a lesson in compassion. Winged lion the emblem of St. Mark. Heraldry: lion passant gardant in arms of Great Britain.
LYNX (Linx). Asia Minor. The linx sees through walls and produces a black stone- a valuable carbuncle in its secret parts. Wolf-like, tufted ears, short tail, keen sight.
MANDRAKE. (Mandragora). Egypt. Mandragora a plant most wondrously potent. It had aphrodisiac and narcotic properties; used as an anaesthetic in ancient Greece. Short spikes, forked root occasionally of human shape. If anyone tries to uproot it, it would shriek and he would die or become insane.
MANTICORA. India. Solinus: The Manticora is born in India with a triple row of teeth a man s face; bluish-grey eyes; red color; lion s body; scorpion s tail and voice of a Siren. It was said to revel in human flesh, was swifter than a bird, in its tail were three fatal stings which could be used as darts.
MARSOK. Asia. Marsok a beast changed from one (color) to another. Quadruped, two feet webbed, two feet with toes or claws. Probably a chameleon which can change the color of its skin to harmonize with its surroundings.
MERMAID. Mediterranean. A woman down to the waist with tail of a fish. Conventionally holds a mirror in one hand, combing lovely hair with.the other According to myth created by Ea, Babylonian water god. Sometimes identified with Sirens, the mythical enchantresses along coasts of the Mediterranean, who lured sailors to destruction by their singing. Ulysses contrived a way of escape. To her regret the mermaid had no soul, and was regarded as a temptress. There may be significance in the soulless mermaid placed in the map close to the unattainable Holy Land, or she may be a possible temptation to sea-faring pilgrims.
MINOTAUR. Misplaced in Scythia. Scythia. Here l found beasts like the minotaur useful for war. The place for this bull-headed monster is Minos' kingdom of Crete. Associated with bull-cult and Cretan ceremonial bull-leaping.
MONOCEROS-see Rhinoceros (Unicorn).
OSTRICH (Ostricius). Europe. Ostrich head of a goose; body of a crane; feet of a calf. Capable of digesting iron; reputation for folly in leaving the sun to hatch its eggs and burying its head in the sand when pursued.
PARROT (Psittacus). India. Solinus: Indian sends for the parrot a bird of green color with purple neck. According to Aristotle the tongue of a parrot resembles that of man.
PELICAN. Asia. For my young l rend my heart. The mother bird was reputed by St. Augustine and Isidore to kill its young by kisses or blows, and after three days the male bird would wound himself in the breast and revive the brood with his own life-blood. A symbol of the Resurrection.
PHOENIX. Egypt. The bird phoenix lives for five hundred years it is the only one of its kind in the world. According to Herodotus a red and golden bird, the size of an eagle. Every five hundred years the pheonix visited Heliopolis, the city of the sun, with the embalmed body of its father in a roll of myrrh and buried it in the temple of the sun. Then it plunged to its own death in fire, to be re-born from the ashes. Christian symbol of the Resurrection.
RHINOCEROS. Egypt. Solinus: The Rhinoceros a native of India; is the color of boxwood; it erects its single nasal horn when fighting against elephants; being the same length but shorter in the leg it naturally attacks the belly which it realizes is the only vulnerable spot.
SALAMANDER. Egypt. Salamander a most venomous reptile. A species of newt or lizard. wrongly represented with wings; often colored red because capable of living in fire.
SCORPION (Scorpio). Egypt. Germany. Crab-like stinging creature injecting poison with its tail. Eighth sign of the Zodiac.
SIMIA (Ape). Norway. Simia from Greek-word, snub-nosed, i.e., unattractive appearance. Anthropoid, man-like, e.g., gorillas, chimpanzees, orang-outangs.
TIGER (Tigris). Asia. A tiger when it sees its cub has been stolen chases the thief at full speed; the thief in full flight on a fast horse drops a mirror in the track of the tiger and so escapes unharmed. The point of the manoeuvre is that the thief escaping with a tiger-cub throws down a mirror to delude the pursuer which sees its own reflection in the mirror, mistakes it for the cub, stops to fondle it, loses valuable time and the thief escapes. Tiger meat was eaten to give strength and courage; the cub may have been stolen for this purpose.
TIGOLOPES (Ugolopes). Syria. Webbed feet, tail, holding up a wand.
UNICORN (Monoceros). Egypt. A virgin girl is set in front of this unicorn; at his approach she opens her lap; there he lays his head with all ferocity vanished and stupified and defenseless is captured. A frequent subject for bestiaries. Unicorn's strength and gentleness symbolic of Christ. In heraldry: supporter of royal arms.
YALE (Eale). Asia. Solinus: the eale is born in India with the body of a horse; the tail of an elephant black in color goats jaws; horns more than a cubit long not rigid but moveable as nee(l arises in fighting; it fights with one and folds back the other. This creature, recorded by Pliny and Solinus, was long regarded as mythical but identified in 1968 by Wilma George as the Indian water buffalo whose horns are not movable; instead of butting it uses one at a time with sideway inclination of head.
AGRIOPHANI ETHIOPES. Africa. Agriophani Ethiopes eat only the flesh of panthers and lions they have a king with only one eye in his forehead. (Solinus). Identified with the Agofagy of the Alexandrian Romance.
ALBANI. Asia. The Albani have grey eyes and see better at night. Their eyesight described by Isidore, their unclean habits by Aethicus.
AMAZONS. Asia. The Pandean race in India is ruled by women. Assumed to be Amazons, female warriors; said by Herodotus to live in Scythia. Amazon means "without a breast," according to tradition these women removed the right breast to use the bow.
ARIMASPIANS (Carimaspi). Asia. Arimaspians fight with griffins for diamonds.
BLEMYAE. Africa. The Blemyae have mouths and eyes on their breasts. (Isidore and Solinus); a wild Ethiopean race frequently invading Egypt; hung down their heads when captured, hence the description.
CYNOCEPHALES. Europe. Men with dog's heads in Norway; perhaps heads protected with furs made them resemble dogs.
ESSENDONES. Asia. Essendones live in Scythia it is their custom to carry out the funeral of their parents with singing and collecting a company of friends to devour the actual corpses with their teeth and make a banquet mingled with the flesh of animals counting it more glorious to be consumed by them than by worms. (Herodotus). Solinus adds that they set the skulls in gold and used them as drinking cups.
GANGINES. Asia. Solinus: they occupy the source of the Ganges and live only on the scent of apples of the forest if they should perceive any smell they die instantly. (Aethicus; Pliny). Their name derived from the river Ganges.
GANGINES OF ETHIOPA. Asia. There is no friendship with them. Two men seen embracing, but they have no friendship with others.
HERMAPHRODITE. Africa. A race of dual sex born with many strange instincts. (Solinus; Mela; Isidore).
HIMANTOPODES (Limantopodes). Africa. Himantopodes; they creep with crawling legs rather than walk they try to proceed by sliding rather than by taking steps. Quite simply, they crawl on all fours as depicted.
HYPERBOREANS. Asia. The Hyperboreans as Solinus says: are the happiest race; for they live without quarrelling and without sickness for as long as they like, and when weary of life they fling themselves into the sea from a well-known rock; they think that is the best kind of burial. (Herodotus; Pindar).
MARMINI (Maritimi). Africa. Maritime Ethopians who have four eyes. Keen sighted.
MONOCOLI (Sciapods). Asia. The Monocoli in India are one-legged and swift when they want to be protected from the heat of the sun they are shaded by the size of their foot. (Solinus; Pliny). Not to be confused with Monoculi, one-eyed.
MOUTHLESS RACE IN ETHIOPIA. Africa. A race with mouth grown fast together fed through a reed.
PHANESII. Asia. Phanesii are covered with the skin of their ears. A bat-like people with enormous drooping ears. Identified with Auryalyn in the Alexandrian Romance.
PHILLI (Psylli). Africa. Psylli test the chastity of their wives by exposing their new-born children to serpents. (Solinus). Legitimate babies are untouched by the serpents. The burning mountain full of serpents is threateningly near.
SCYTHIANS. Asia. A race of Scythians dwelling in the interior; unduly harsh customs; cave dwellers; making cups not like the Essendones out of the skulls of friends but of their enemies; they love war; they drink the blood of enemies from their actual wounds; their reputation increases with the number of foes slaughtered and to be devoid of experience of slaughtering is a disgrace. (Solinus; Mela).
SPOPODES. Asia. They have horses' feet, as the Greek name implies.
TROGLODYTES (Trocoditee). Africa. Troglodytes exceptionally villainous capture wild animals by leaping on them. (Solinus). Cave dwellers.
TURKS (Turchi). Asia. The island of Terraconta where the Turks dwell descendants of Gog and Magog; a barbarous and unclean race devouring the flesh of youths and abortions. Associated with Mongols and Tartars, a threat to the Greek Empire. (Aethicus).
The best pictorial collection of monsters are in The Marvels of the East by M.R. James (Roxburghe Club) 1929, with representations from manuscripts in the British Library and the Bodleian Library, and "Marvels of the East", by R. Wittkower, Journal of the Warburg and Curtland Institutes, V. (1942), p. 129, which is fully illustrated and contains a detailed study of the whole subject. See also John Mandeville's Travels from the Hakluyt Society. (Hereford Cathedral, Hereford, England)
the maps and text from : http://
500th anniversary of the Piri Reis World Map (1513)
This map marks a significant event in the history of the country and has enabled its collective knowledge to be transmitted through generations. As a rare world map from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Piri Reis World Map is an invaluable piece of the world’s documentary heritage as it provides insight on the history of its time. It is therefore part of the Memory of the World and should be made better known. (UNESCO)