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Old 20-09-2005, 05:45   #1
Rambuchan
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Post "Imago Mundi" (The Image of The World) [Reference Thread]

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“Imago Mundi” (The Image of the World)


Al Idrissi’s Map for the Norman King Roger II in Palermo, Sicily: – c12th original, reprinted 1456. NOTE: This map was drawn with south at top and has been inverted for clarity.
------------------------------------------------------------

PREFACE:

There are many reasons why I am choosing to embark on an epic article entitled “Imago Mundi” (The Image of the World). Some of these are as follows:

a) I have been fascinated by maps for well over a decade now. During this time I have been collecting them, painting them, reading about them, presenting to others about them and generally getting a great deal of value out of them. I hope to pass on some of my findings in this time, rather than just sit with them.

b) As a young art student I concentrated on a great deal of conceptual art, particularly the relationship between Pop Artists and Abstract Expressionists, but also the general use of ‘text’, ‘logos’ and other ‘abstractions’ in art. This is touched on in the ‘Abstraction’ section and very much relates to maps, for they are indeed abstractions of the world around us, an image of it, as we choose to see it. This is a significant issue for historians…

c) Maps, as this whole article will argue, are indeed Cultural Artefacts. They provide a deep insight into the minds and hearts of those who lived many hundreds and even thousands of years before us. They do this far better than many other ‘historical’ documents we can access and consume. When we accept that these are quite subjective artefacts, we can appreciate what was important to these people, what they feared, what they dreamed of and also, by their omissions, what geo-political forces were at play at the time of their creation.

d) Related to the point above, maps are quite honest ‘historical’ documents. The vast majority of them quite frankly take the view that they are describing the world around us, not explaining it. This is of enormous value to historians, and is not often accepted.

e) CFC is after all a gaming forum. Many modders of Civilisation are in need of maps and interested as a result. I hope this article thread will become a resource for them.

f) These maps to follow are the work of very talented men. Men who quite often were artists AND scientists (and often monks as well). They lived in times which did not see much of a distinction between art and science, or reasons and emotion/imagination. These men and such an approach to ‘scientific endeavour’ are inspiring and I feel they have something to offer us today.

g) They are quite simply beautiful and fascinating artefacts to look at.



Psalter Map: c1250. Original size 6” x 4” and printed alongside a 13th century copy of The Book of Psalms.


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"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown

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Old 20-09-2005, 05:47   #2
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HOW THIS THREAD WILL WORK – Please take note.

This will be a very long and exhaustive look at Mapmaking, Maps, Cartography, Cartographers, their related histories and issues. It will progress over time, perhaps a couple of months and take in many diverse topics. It will also naturally contain many large images. This requires a sensible approach if the initial material is to be of easy access and use to viewers and visitors of this forum. Following a discussion with Knight-Dragon, this forum’s moderator, it has been agreed that:


There will be TWO threads on this topic.

a) THE REFERENCE THREAD:
This will contain all the large images of the maps, together with relevant commentary. This means it will read like a book, without discussion or interruption. Please DO NOT post in this thread. Your comments and articles can be edited in as the discussion in the other thread takes place. In fact this thread will continually get edited with new content. Update notifications of which shall be posted in the Discussion thread.

b) THE DISCUSSION & DEBATE THREAD:
This is where we shall be able to discuss and debate the manifold issues these maps will throw up. I shall of course be editing in any corrections, clarifications, articles and other points which members highlight. THIS is the thread to post in. And if you wish to write an article, then please do so and it will be edited into ‘The Reference Thread’.

Some Reasons:

i) As with all the Political Cartoon series I post, I intend to send non-CFC members these links for various professional and amateur uses, and they will most likely not be interested in the discussion, just the pictures and commentary. Ditto the Civ Modders who are not interested in the History Forum.
ii) The Reference Thread can therefore remain just that, an easy reference resource with all sections linked up and indexed.
iii) Those people on dial-up connections will know that each page they load of the article thread will only contain maps and commentary.
iv) The subjects the thread will deal with are quite diverse and one thread most likely will not be sensible to deal with such varied discussion.
v) Because K-D said so!


Redrawing of Cosmas Indicopleustes' world picture, 6 th century
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Old 20-09-2005, 05:52   #3
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INDEX:

------------------------------------------------------------

~ Preface

~ Note for viewers and posters

~ Index with links, to be continually edited.

------------------------------------------------------------

~ Introduction - Abstraction:

~ ‘What is abstraction and what has it done for us?’ > 'The end of abstraction in mapmaking?'

------------------------------------------------------------
CHAPTER 1: From the First Maps to 300A.D.
------------------------------------------------------------
~ The First Maps

~ The Near East: Catal Hyük Wall Painting & The Caucasus Map Vase
~ The Dreamtime.
~ The Earliest Maritime Mapping (Polynesia)
~ A Note To Those Seeking the Earliest Maps

------------------------------------------------------------

~ The Birth of the Image of World, as We Know It Today:

~ The World According to The Phoenicians, told by Homer
~ 'ONE World Map'
~ Eratosthenes & Strabo
~ 'The Bad News'
~ 'The Classical Greek contribution to Cartography':
1) Oikoumene
2) The Shape of the World
3) Spherical Geometry & Astronomy
4) Empiricism
~ 'Strabo Summarises'
~ The Legacy left to Ptolemy
~ 'Roman vs. Greek Learning'.

------------------------------------------------------------

~ Ptolemy: Part 1


~ Brief Biography
~ Roman vs. Greek learning
~ The Ptolemaic Paradox

~ Ptolemy: Part 2

~ His Relevant Works:

1) 'The Almagest or Al-Majesti' (The Master) – Astronomy
2) 'Geography' - Geography & Cartography
3) 'Tetrabiblos' - Astronomy
4) 'Handy Tables' - Astronomy

~ His Major Contributions:

1) The Size and Location of the Known World: Stadia
2) Locating of Specific Places: Encyclopaedic School
3) The Mathematical Contruction of the World: The introduction of Longitudes & Latitudes
4) The Geocentric Universe

------------------------------------------------------------
CHAPTER 2: Inner and Outer Worlds ~ Religious Mapping.
------------------------------------------------------------


"Manuslyaloka" (The World of Man) ~ Jain Chart of The World, c15th.

~ Inner and Outer Worlds: Buddhist Mapping.

~ 'Gotenjiku-Zu and the Role of Buddhist Mapping In Edo Japan'

3 mapping styles in Edo Japan
Gotenjiku-Zu
The Pilgrimage of Hsuang-Tsang
Map of Nansenbushu (Jambu-dviipa)
Lake Manasarowar, Mount Kailash and The River Ganges

Aid to contemplation?

~ 'Jain Chart of the World and the Eight Fold Path' (c15th)

A crash course in Buddhism
Shumisen-gizu (A Representation of Mount Sumeru / Kailash)
Graphical Allusion
Hindu Yantras

~ Summary

------------------------------------------------------------
INNER AND OUTER WORLDS: Christian Religious Mapping in The Mappae Mundi

Article added 14:00 GMT on 23/01/06
-------------------------------------------------------------------------



This article is in three separate posts:

Intro
Main Section
Conclusion & Bibliography


In this article:

~ The Orientation of the Medieval Mind

~ The Four Major Medieval Mapping Traditions:

1) tripartite ("T-O")
2) quadripartite (with the addition of the antipodes)
3) zonal ('Macrobian')
4) 'transitional' (complex, eg Hereford)

~ Christianity, Geography and Science

~ Role of The Marvellous: Escapism, Morals and Distant Places

~ Simultaneous representation of past, present and future.

~ Conclusion & Bibliography



------------------------------------------------------------

~ The Educational Systems under which maps were/are produced: Cordovan Spain, Roger II, Chinese Dynasties commission, Indian Cosmology.


------------------------------------------------------------

~ Secular & Analytical: Ptolemy, Macrobius, Al Idrissi.

~ Exploration & Explanation of Cartographers’ Techniques: Projection, calculations for the circumference of the earth, Longitudes and Latitudes, Dealing with the unknown, Dealing with the contradictions in religious knowledge.

------------------------------------------------------------

~ Significant Cartographers & their maps: The list is endless!

------------------------------------------------------------

More sections to come.

------------------------------------------------------------

THIS INDEX IS BEING POSTED FOR OTHERS TO SEE WHAT IS COMING. THEY WILL ALL BE LINKED ONCE THE ARTICLES ARE POSTED.

IF YOU SEE ANY AREAS WHICH REQUIRE EXPANSION OR COMMENTARY, PLEASE POST THESE NOTICES IN "THE IMAGO MUNDI DISCUSSION THREAD" .


Thanks.
__________________
Two great historical Civ 3 scenarios for you:

HEGEMON! Of The Classical Greek World!

"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown

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Old 20-09-2005, 06:12   #4
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SOURCES:
Used throughout.


ONLINE:
(Plenty of plenty of plenty maps in these links!!!)

PROF. FRANCES PRITCHETT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/p...dex.html#index

HENRY-DAVIS.COM
http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/EMwebpages/EM1.html

EARLY MEDIEVAL MAPS (c2nd > 1700s)
http://xena.lib.unimelb.edu.au/cgi/m...r%20Collection

BOOKS:

Primarily:

*Whitfield, P. The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of Maps. The whole thing.

Also:

*Andrews, M., "The Study and Classification of Medieval Mappae Mundi", Archeaologia, vol. LXXV.
*Beazley, C., The Dawn of Modem Geography.
*Brown, L.A., The Story of Maps
*Brown, L.A., The World Encompassed.
*Destombes, M., Mappemondes, A.D. 1200-1500.
*Harley, J.B., The History of Cartography.
*Kimble, G., Geography in the Middle Ages.
*McCrindle, J.W., The Christian Topography of Cosmas, an Egyptian monk, Hakluyt Society.
*Nordenskiöld, A.E., Facsimile Atlas.
*Wroth, L., The Early Cartography of the Pacific.


Time chart of medieval cartography
__________________
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"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown
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Old 20-09-2005, 07:43   #5
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INTRODUCTION:

ABSTRACTION:
‘What is abstraction?


"Ceci N'est Pas Une Pipe. Les Deux Mystères. [This is not a Pipe. Two Mysteries]" ~ René Magritte, (1898-1967)

Quote:
"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee:--
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible
To feeling as to sight? or art thou but
A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, in form as palpable
As this which now I draw.
Thou marshall'st me the way that I was going;
And such an instrument I was to use.
Mine eyes are made the fools o' the other senses,
Or else worth all the rest: I see thee still;
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,
Which was not so before.--There's no such thing:
It is the bloody business which informs
Thus to mine eyes."

~ Macbeth (William Shakespeare)
Put quite simply, Abstraction is: ‘the act of divorcing the properties of physical objects from the objects themselves.

Whoever ‘that person’ was, when they ‘discovered abstraction’ they laid open a cognitive device that would greatly enhance man’s ability to understand and then manipulate and control the world around them. Perhaps the two most significant applications of this device are in Language and in Mathematics. ‘That person’ would have realised that numbers are independent of the objects being counted. For instance, two apples and two oranges share a property – ‘twoness’, quite independent of the properties of the fruit. It need not be elaborated here quite how far we have taken abstraction in mathematics and indeed how much it has allowed us to do. In speaking or even thinking about these matters, that person was indulging in the other great abstractionist pastime – language.

Briefly, it may be said that in using abstraction it is possible to reason directly about properties that need not be present, observed by any sense, or otherwise comprehensible to the human mind. The crucial part here is that we may reason about matters otherwise ungraspable.

Now of course this applies to a great deal more than just numbers and language. The words you are now reading are an extension of languages abstracting abilities, the name you are known by, names that anything is known by, prices on commodities, road signs, religious icons, national flags, brands, star signs plus a great deal else we simply take for granted. And maps are no exception.

What has it done for us and mapmaking?’



Maps and abstraction have allowed us to objectify the world, but it has also alowed us to project our own subjectivity onto it (hence the Macbeth quote). This has pricked our curiosity and permitted us to:

- Believe we own continents
- Travel further
- Dream more about the world
- Go conquering, settling and/or to trade
- Overcome our irrational and often religiously inspired fear of the world around us
- Gain an understanding of our place in the universe
- Plus a great deal else!

However, it is not all good news. A recurring theme, which shall appear in a later article (‘Ptolemy and Cartographic Techniques’), is the problem of transferring a map of a spherical surface onto a two dimensional sheet of paper (Ptolemy provided 3 solutions for this). There were many other related problems with abstracting the world and our understanding of it onto a piece of paper. Although some did indeed go about making spherical 3-D representations, not everyone had this option open to them.

Further still were problems associated with the shape of the world. Long before Europeans or Asians or people in the Middle East knew that the world was round, they were already representing it as circular. However, these tended to be religiously inspired cosmologies or ‘maps of the religious imagination’ and bore no geographical relation to the world they represented. Yet another problem for observers of maps is that even those who knew the world was round went about depicting it as a rectangle.

Those are some of the issues which the various theories and analytical applications of cartography had to face. The more objective and reason based applications of cartography will be dealt with in another article but this is an introduction to some of the aspects of abstracting in mapmaking.

As for the religious and 'subjective mapmakers', they had a whole set of other problems and challenges faced with abstracting the world around them onto a piece of paper. There will be a separate article about this.


Cosmas Indicopleutes, 6th century

The basic point of this introduction being the assertion that maps are abstractions. They are quite divorced from the properties of the physical world, they seek to represent.

'How is the observer of old maps to best understand their abstractions?'

In short - without our modern day abstractions.
Quote:
"These maps are rooted in the history which they helped us to create; therefore they must often be interpreted in language which their contemporaries would not have recognised. This approach carries a danger that haunts all historians of ideas: the temptation to demythologise or decode the past. If everything is culturally relative, nothing is what it seems, and everything must be interpreted by the use of subtle intellectual keys. Such an approach becomes self-defeating if it distances us from the mind of the past, and demonstrates merely the mind of the present. With that danger held clearly in mind...the principle subjectivity in maps, both personal and cultural subjectivity, is emphasised as an analytical key."

The Image of The World - Peter Whitfield
I hope to bring out 'the mind of the past' with each article in this thread. And I hope you will join in.

'The end of abstraction in mapmaking?'


Many people believe that the birth of satellite imagery has put to bed the whole notion of subjective map making. Well they are sadly wrong.
Quote:
"Satellite images are likewise manipulated in order to produce flat two-dimensional maps for the most part, with the very same projection problems as before. The colours are also worked for better contrast, objects are removed because they do not fit our notion of what a clear map is (eg, clouds), and even if we look at them as the most advanced way of representing our world, and significantly improved over atempts of our ancestors, let us not forget that those old maps occupied the exact same space in their minds. It served the same and other similar functions. So the difference is only one of technique, not in terms of reality perception."
{Thanks to MCdread for the input in the final paragraph, similar conclusion but far better phrased!}





__________________
Two great historical Civ 3 scenarios for you:

HEGEMON! Of The Classical Greek World!

"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown

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Old 20-09-2005, 12:19   #6
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THE FIRST MAPS:
---------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:
~ The Near East: Catal Hyük Wall Painting & The Caucasus Map Vase
~ The Dreamtime.
~ The Earliest Maritime Mapping (Polynesia)
~ A Note To Those Seeking the Earliest Maps

---------------------------------------------------------------------

'Catal Hyük Wall Painting'

This is most probably the first map we have preserved by history:


A wall painting that is approximately nine feet long and has an in situ radiocarbon date of 6,200 + 97 B.C
Quote:
"In around 6200 BC in Catal Hyük in Anatolia a wall painting was made depicting the positions of the streets and houses of the town together with surrounding features such as the volcano close to the town. The wall painting was discovered in 1963 near the modern Ankara in Turkey. Whether it is a map or a stylised painting is a matter of debate."

Source: http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac...rtography.html
You can see what the whole thing looked like by clicking these words
Quote:
"Mellaart believes that the map depicts a town plan, matching Catal Hyük itself, showing the congested "beehive" design of the settlement and displaying a total of some 80 buildings... In the foreground is a town arising in graded terraces closely packed with rectangular houses. Behind the town an erupting volcano is illustrated, its sides covered with incandescent volcanic bombs rolling down the slopes of the mountain... The twin cones of the volcano suggest that an eruption of Hasan Dag, rising to a height of 10,672 feet, and standing at the eastern end of the Konya Plain and visible from Catal Hyük, is recorded here.

These local volcanic mountains were important to the inhabitants of Catal Hyük as a source of obsidian used in the making of tools, weapons, jewelry, mirrors and other objects."

Source: http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/Anci...s/100mono.html
It may be noted that if this reading is indeed true, this makes it not only the first map we have, but also the first political map, luring its viewers to the mountains. Such maps will be dealt with later.

'The Caucasus Map Vase'



This is a picture map from c3000 BC and has been redrawn from the engraved silver vase it was found on in the Caucasus Region. Indeed some of the oldest surviving images of the world are from the civilisations of the ancient near east.

You are probably wondering: Should this be considered a map? Well yes. A definition is called for:

"Maps are graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes, or events in the human world."

[From: A History of Cartography. Website version here.]

The Caucasus Vase Map complies with this definition. As does the Catal Hyük Wall Painting. These figures of the world typically portray elements such as:

~ Gods or dominant forces (as in medieval Christian and Buddhist maps we shall see later)
~ Man with symbols from his environment such as artefacts, weapons or animals (no different from strategic military or sales terriroty maps. or the extra decoration on early naval explorer's maps)
~ And then the basic natural elements of earth, sky and water (by no means dissimilar to later representations of the zodiac or winds in medieval maps).

These earliest of early maps include pictorial representations of the world which surrounded the ancient man. They included what was important to them and moreover we can see that they have been arranged into diagramatic representations. Quite coherent ones at that. We need not worry about the fact they are 'poor' (in our opinion) spatial representations. That is not the method we are using to observe these maps. It is through their eyes that they must be seen.

Here we see two rivers running from mountains down to a lake in the plains below. Ibex and other animals circle this watering hole. And we can see that other hooved animals are placed closer to the mountain range, away from the watering hole.

This may have served in a literal sense but, given ancient man's penchant for symbolism, we shall take a leap and suggest that they represent abstractions of other entities. So these animals may well be symbolic of city states perhaps. We know that large swathes of the near east were governed under such systems and that a variety of gods presided over these city states. Moreover, we also know that animals were used to represent these gods, or were at least associated with them. So this map is indeed a map of the city states of the near eastern region of the caucasus.

This is just one interpretation. Whether right or wrong it represents the kind of thought I am choosing to apply to the observance of these maps. It has afterall been the method preferred by cartographers and their analysists alike.


'The Dreamtime'



Central to Australian Aboriginal religious beliefs are the ancestral creative beings who shaped the land and created the plants, reptiles, insects, fishes, birds and the people. These ancestral creative beings journeyed across the continent in the Dreamtime; they emerged from the subterranean or heavenly world and moved over the featureless earth. They created the billabongs, rivers, the rock hills and the mountains, and all the features of the environment. At the same time, the ancestral creative beings placed in this setting all of life, human, animal and plant, in an interconnected system of relationships. This done, they retired to the sea, underground or to the heavens, although they have never really abandoned their creations, according to the legends.

So such dreamtime paintings are in fact depictions of the paths the gods took across the earth. Fortunate for the map fanatic is the fact that these gods left mountains, lakes and other geographical features with their footsteps and other antics. This means that the Aboriginal Australians were in fact mapping the world around them contemporaneously with the above mentioned near eastern civilisations. Aboriginal cave paintings have in fact recently been dated to as far back as a 2000BC. But there are many claims to a far earlier tradition of such story painting and story telling. These are not substantiated enough to include here.

This diagram is the best I could find to explain Aboriginal cosmology in our terms. It may be quite illegible but no better could be found.


Art was a very important part of their religious life, to maintain traditional representations and styles. It is still in the tradition to represent many of the desert Dreamings stories, and the sand paintings have been replaced by paintings on canvas and new styles like dot paintings and X rays styles are the most popular modern art styles based on traditional Dreamings and totemic representations. Often these were, and still are, painted simultaneously to storytelling, as this man is demonstrating.



He is drawing what may be called a story map, a diagram of one is below. Again, you are probably thinking that a map of a religious story is not a map at all. Well it is because it maps their mind and how their mind sees the world around them. It represents and abstracts the meaning they associated to the world. The religious meaning. It just so happens that their religious meaning bears direct relation to the geography around them. (This diagram does not by the way.)



We shall see in the section dealing with Christian TO maps that there is very little difference in approach. Here is a thumbnail of The Beatus Map, a Christian map from Mozarabic Spain, 776AD, copied and reprinted in 1109. click the picture for a large copy or open the spoiler for a HUGE one.


Spoiler for Full size map to view in the thread:


Here we can see Europeans depicting the world according to a Biblical notion, a very specific one at that. The shape of the map is unusual when placed beside its contemporaries. Firstly it is rectangular, not oval.

Peter Whitfield in "The Image of The World" declares this is:

...undoubtedly derived from the text at Revelation 7:1: 'I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth'.

You have to wait for another article to find out how else it was different


'The Earliest Maritime Mapping' (Polynesia)

Polynesian mapping of the sea should certainly not be discounted in this early introduction of cartography.
Quote:
"When travelling greater distances, the early navigators steered by the stars. They directed their canoes towards a particular star in the constellation Leo and when that star moved too high and too far to the left, they followed the next star that rose from the same point on the horizon. Then the next and after that the next and so on until dawn broke.

The star-compass technique is still practised over much of the Pacific. What is more impressive however is the island navigator's uncanny skill to steer by wave motion - swells reflected from islands beyond the horizons. The skilled navigator comes to recognise the profile and characteristic of particular ocean swells as he would the faces of his friends, but he judges their direction more by feel than by sight.

The complex patterns produced by swell reflected and refracted among the islands are recognised by navigators throughout Oceania. The Marshall Islanders illustrate the process using stick charts as seen below."



Source: http://www.janeresture.com/navigators/index.htm
We can date their techniques back to before the Greek mapping world, thanks to their pottery: "The obscure people who made Lapita pottery reached Tonga before 1000 B.C" (same source)

In fact two things are startling about the explorers of the South Pacific:

a) They did indeed produce the very first naval charts in the world. We shall see as we get to about 1500AD quite what an impact naval cartography had on the earthbound maps of the world.

b) Perhaps more than any of the examples in this particular article, these Polynesian maps were the first empirical exercises in map making. They were firmly rooted in observation, experience, study of the elements and visual signals of what lay beyond. They did not insert any subjective meaning or imagination into their depictions of the world. Nor did they work to lure the population toward a political goal. They were simply functional. Herodotus and Ptolemy would have tipped their hats to these men, the earliest maritime cartographers.


'A Note To Those Seeking the Earliest Maps'

The most fitting conclusion to this summary of the First Maps is provided by henry-davis.com
Quote:
"The human activity of graphically translating one's perception of his world is now generally recognized as a universally acquired skill and one that pre-dates virtually all other forms of written communication. Set in this pre-literate context and subjected to the ravages of time, the identification of any artifact as "the oldest map", in any definitive sense, becomes an elusive task.

Nevertheless, searching for the earliest forms of cartography is a continuing effort of considerable interest and fascination. These discoveries provide not only chronological benchmarks and information about geographical features and perceptions thereof, but they also verify the ubiquitous nature of mapping, help to elucidate cultural differences and influences, provide valuable data for tracing conceptual evolution in graphic presentations, and enable examination of relationships to more "contemporary primitive" mapping."
__________________
Two great historical Civ 3 scenarios for you:

HEGEMON! Of The Classical Greek World!

"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown

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Old 21-09-2005, 06:10   #7
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The Birth of the Image of World, as We Know It Today:
---------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:

~ The World According to The Phoenicians, told by Homer
~ 'ONE World Map'
~ Eratosthenes & Strabo (map)
~ 'The Bad News'
~ 'The Classical Greek contribution to Cartography':
1) Oikoumene
2) The Shape of the World
3) Spherical Geometry & Astronomy
4) Empiricism
~ 'Strabo Summarises'
~ The Legacy left to Ptolemy (Map)

---------------------------------------------------------------------


The World according to THE PHOENICIANS, as told by Homer.


'ONE World Map'

It is entirely possible to speak of ONE image of the world, ONE world map. As we can see above, this ONE map is derived from Phoenician geography. For it is they who planted the seed, they who travelled the furthest and they who needed an image of the world the most. The Greeks merely watered this seed, but they did so dilligently and lovingly. Unfortunately there are no records I know of from Phoenician cartographers, not even textual references. Their work and intellect must be gleened from the work of the Greek thinkers.

The map which people in the 21st century typically use to depict the world can verily be traced back nearly 2500 years. As we shall see, particularly around 500BC and then about 1000 years after, the image of the world we accept today was being fashioned in earnest and enhanced. Our world map today can be compared quite closely with those that were found (recreated) in many books with titles such as "The World as Known to Herodotus" or "The World According to Strabo".


Greek Map of the world, Eratosthenes and reworked by Strabo, 200 B.C. to 20 A.D. NOTE: As with many maps for the next 1000 years, it is oriented with East at the top. [Source]

'The Bad News'

I guess we should start with the bad news. The really bad news: Not a single world map, in any form, has survived from the entire classical period.

All we have are second and third hand accounts of what they looked like, and recreations based on text left behind by thinkers such as Pythagoras, Herodotus, Aristotle, Hipparchus, Eratosthenes, Crates and Archimedes. For that is how Greek cartographers passed on the legacy of their knowledge, handwritten textual directions of what the world looked like.

'The Classical Greek contribution to Cartography'

So what contributions were made in Greece c600BC? What foundations were laid? The answer is there were many. Many significant contributions at that. The finest observer and collator of Greek advances in cartography is Strabo and it his through his works that I am presenting. There were two major influences on the path the Greek mapmakers progressed upon, those were Geometry and War, both of which produced the following:

1) Oikoumene: Early Greek thought made an important distinction between the Earth, as a whole entity, which they called 'Gea', and the known, inhabited world of man, which they called 'Oikoumene'.

This is significant in that no time was wasted on speculation as to what lay beyond the unknown. Their task was chiefly concerned with the categorisation (which gave birth to the encyclopedic school of cartography) and rational explanation (hard geography not imagination) of the known world.

They brought an intellectual intensity to the art and science of mapmaking, and once this distinction had been made it was possible to focus in earnest on a rational and analytical approach to viewing the world.

2) The Shape of the World:

There are two views put forward by Greek thought regarding the shape of the world, and a later one developed subsequently.

a) The flat circular disc.
b) The spherical globe.

Given the loss of actual maps and cartographic works from this period, there are problems in reading Greek text on the subject. Questions are thrown up which vex the student of cartography, such as those expressed by Peter Whitfield.
Quote:
"Did these early thinkers consider the earth to be circular, or the inhabited world? Circular as a disk is circular, or as a sphere?
Well we know that Homer considered the world to be a flat disc. Henry-Davis.com gives a good explanation of the Homeric World View.
Quote:
The Homeric conception of the world represented as a flat, circular disc of land surrounded by a continuous ocean-stream remained a popular notion in the Greek world even after many philosophers and scientists had accepted the theory of the sphericity of the earth enunciated by the Pythagoreans and subjected to theoretical proof by Aristotle. In this interpretation the world is like a plateau on the top of a mountain; inside this, close to the surface of the earth, lies the House of Hades, the realm of Death, and beneath it Tartarus, the realm of Eternal Darkness. The plateau of the earth is surrounded by Oceanus, the world river, and from its periphery rises the fixed dome of the sky. The sun, the moon, and the stars rise from the waters at the edge of the dome, move in an arc above the earth, and then sink once again into the sea to complete their course beneath the Oceanus. The atmosphere above the mountain of the earth is thick with clouds and mist, but higher up is the clear Æther with its starry ceiling.

Read much more: http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/Anci...s/105mono.html

World view according to Homer

Hecataeus of Miletus (early 500BC) also described the world as a circular landmass quite surrounded by water (Oceanus). A contemporary on the otherhand, Anaximander, is reported by Strabo five centuries later, to have built a globe. So we see how the two philosophies co-existed.

A great deal of confusion can arise therefore when considering which was the prevailing view, or even if there was some kind of consensus, at least up until the arrival of one man - Pythagoras (500BC). As many now know, he presented a purely theoretical principle: That the world must possess the most perfect form known to nature - the sphere. Aristotle built upon such theoretical assumptions and compounded the success of a spherical view of the world.

As the Gulf of Maine Aquarium website so aptly puts it:
Quote:
"People knew the Earth was round 2500 years ago. They just forgot...

Scholars like Pythagoras in 500 BC based their belief on observations about the way the altitudes of stars varied at different places on Earth and how ships appeared on the horizon. As a ship returned to port, first its mast tops, then the sails, and finally its hull gradually came into view. Aristotle, who lived 300 years before Christ, observed that the Earth cast a round shadow on the moon. When a light is shined on a sphere, it casts the same shadow. "

[Their Navigation & Mapping page is good.]
c) Trapezoid / Climata

A later shape appeared after Alexander's 'expeditions'. This was a world that was governed and arranged according to latitudinal zones and was fervently put forward by Herodotus, who encouraged an empirical approach to map making. Again, it is difficult to discern if he really believed the world was a trapezoid or whether this was just a problem thrown up by working with 2 and 3 dimensions. It is largely accepted that the trapezoid was put forward as a technique for representing the work on paper.

3) Spherical Geometry & Astronomy

In theorising about the world in such a way, the Greeks were bringing two new schools of thought to mapmaking - Geometry and Astronomy. Advances in these fields made possible:

~ Precise mensuration
~ Position Finding
~ And then Co-Ordinate Systems

In fact, during this period, geometric science very much rode the coat tails of astronomical theory. It was the astronomical concept of the sky being a sphere which allowed men to think of the earth being one too. Indeed they applied an entirely deductive thought process to arrive at such a conclusion. "If the sky is a sphere, or a series of spheres, the centre of such a system (earth) must in turn be a sphere also" was the thinking. So the mapping techniques which had been applied to the skies were then applied to the earth.

Eratosthenes (240-200BC) is 'the daddy' in this field. He:

~ Calculated the circumference of the earth using spherical geometry (it was fairly innacurate but the best the world would see until Aryabhatia)
~ Devised a system of Parallels and Meridiens which meant locations could be plotted on a map (allowing Ptolemy to cast his invisible net over the known world 400 years later)

Archimedes (250-220BC) is also reported to have constructed globes according to Eratosthenes' work and his own contributions. These were of the heavens and planetary systems with the earth placed at the centre. This is the classical 'Geocentric Theory' which had been advanced by Aristarchus (c250BC) but was trashed by commentators at the time. Hipparchus (160-130BC) is also significant here because he was responsible for the most detailed star catalogue for the Greeks and he also introduced Babylonian and Indian mathematics, which included the 360 degree division of the globe.

Notably Ptolemy decided to advance the Geocentric view of the world, leading future cartographers (for 1000 years) away from the Heliocentric Theory, which did indeed place the sun at the centre of the universe and was accepted in many areas of the classical world.

4) Empiricism

The Greeks may not have brought the first empirically made maps to us but they certainly worked hardest at it in the ancient world. Although the Phoenicians handed down a well developed image of the world to ancient Greece we simply do not have many records of their work like we have records that various approaches were debated more fervently in Greece than elsewhere at the time.

We have the immortal Herodotus (450-430BC) to thank for the detailing much of the lands to the East of the Greek world, particularly those of Persia, and he did so (largely) with a detachment and scrutiny that had not been used before. For example, he may have used oral accounts but he most often double checks these before submitting them into his Histories. Prior to him, was Hecaetus of Miletus who, in his Circuit of The Earth, documented the peoples, lands, climates and customs of the Mediterranean. These two works, despite being textual and not diagrammatic, are significant in any history of cartography for they demonstrated an indefatigable spirit towards documenting as much as possible in the known world and (in Hecaetus' case) assigning and order to it too (he described and ordered them clockwise around the Mediterranean).

Alexander's expeditions to the East were mentioned previously and they are crucial to the empirical chapter in the story of the world map. The 'Oikoumene' (known world) was expanded considerably during his time and not only by him. Indeed the differences in terms of reach between a 500BC map and one made by Ptolemy in 400AD verily shows how much Alexander's expeditions contributed to this 'one world map' we use today. And it was directly experienced and documented, in line with Hecaetus and Herodotus' empirical methods.

Herodotus would have lampooned Pythagoras' approach to mapmaking, for the luxury of his travels meant he firmly sided against the theoretical school of thought. He advocated travel, collation and collection, as Europeans in the age of exploration would also do. In short he championed an empirical approach to cartography and it was followed. As a result of such methodology, the Greek awareness of the world expanded in these areas:

~ Many non-Greek geographical, mathematical and astonomical traditions were consumed into the Greek worldview, including Indian, Persian, old Babylonian, Phoenician and by transmission Chinese mathematics, cartography, astronomy. Resulting in the following, but first here is a Babylonian map.


Babylonian clay tablets dating from around 600 BC. One such map shows Babylon and the surrounding area in a stylised form with Babylon represented by a rectangle and the Euphrates river by vertical lines. The area shown is depicted as circular surrounded by water which fits the religious image of the world in which the Babylonians believed.

~ The awareness that Africa was navigable, for it was recorded that the Phoenicians had in fact accomplished such a journey around 600BC.

NOTE: Later maps show Africa connected to south east Asia, demonstrating how the world really did forget a great deal of this knowledge.

~ North and north western Europe opened up to the Greek world map. A journey was recorded, made by Pytheus (c300BC) to the coasts of France, Britain and Germany which totally revolutionised the Greek worldview.

NOTE: Indeed it is reported that many believed Pytheus' reports to be fabrications in search of fame and fortune! This is because of a clash of concepts. If the world was organised by latitudes (Climata) and that the extremities were quite inhabitable according to the notion of Oikoumene, then how the hell could there be people living in northern Europe!?

~ Central and South Asia were now known NOT to be the limits of the human world. This resulted in the trapezoid shape of the world, for the circular representation failed to account for this.

~ A World map that included Four Continents, Eurasia being just one of them. This was again a purely theoretical image of the world, for these continents were arranged equidistant around the equator. This is telling of how theoretical and empirical views merged in the classical greek world and we shall see this zonal approach reraising its head about 1000 years later in European Mappae Mundi.

'Strabo Summarises'

Strabo (30BC - 10AD) summed up many of the leading theories of the classical age. He is an important link in the transmission of these works and is 'the pre-Ptolemaic connection', being one of the few sources for our understanding earlier Greek geographers. His works may be, and have been, taken as a summary of Greek cartography and his assumptions about the world around him are both groundbreaking and revealing.

Quote:
Strabo had no doubt it was possible to sail around the world eastwards or westwards, for he conceived of the inhabited world as an island, located entirely north of the equator, extending to 54 degrees north (to Ireland), and about 125 degrees east to west, from India to Portugal.

The possibility that other continents existed was quite accepted, as Crates had shown on his globe, but no time was spent in speculating where they were or what kind of beings inhabited them.

In "The Image of The World", Whitfield
'The Legacy Left To Ptolemy'

All of the above resulted in a world map that would be picked up by Ptolemy and then passed on to Arab scholars in the Middle Ages. Here is a later reproduction of one of Ptolemy's maps.

NOTE:
a) The arrangement of lands according to latitudes and longitudes.
b) The encyclopedic approach to include as much empirical detail as possible.
c) The absence of any imagined elements, it's just the mountains, seas, name places etc
d) The inclusion of information of lands beyond Greek discoveries. Given the difference in the dating of this map with the Greek thinkers mentioned above, this may seem obvious. But when we consider the Roman and Christian approach to map making, it is quite unusual to see these.
e) The locating of an area between Phoenicia and Persia as the centre of the map.
f) The source of the Nile is identified in East Africa, something later European explorers quibbled about a great deal.

Click this significant map image below for a bigger picture, then click that image for the full size huge one.


Ptolemaic World Map, printed in Rome, 1478. This was made from textual notes left by Ptolemy. Earlier Greek interpretations of the world included far less detail to the East and North.

.
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Old 26-09-2005, 11:19   #8
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Ptolemy: Part 1
Quote:
“I know that I am mortal and the creature of a day: but when I search out the massed wheeling circles of the stars, my feet no longer touch the earth, but, side by side with Zeus himself, I take my fill of ambrosia, the food of the gods.”

Ptolemy (quoted by www.Roman-Britain.ORG)

Ptolemy depicted in Waldseemuller's map 1507 (alongside Amerigo Vespucci out of frame here)

---------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:
~ Brief Biography
~ Roman vs. Greek learning
~ The Ptolemaic Paradox

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~ 'Brief Biography of Claudius Ptolemaeus' (Ptolomaeus, Klaudios Ptolemaios, Ptolemeus).



Claudius Ptolemaeus (Klaudios Ptolemaios) lived in Roman Alexandria, Egypt, between the reigns of Hadrian and Antonine in the second century AD. He is generally remembered as an Astronomer, Mathematician and Geographer; the most intense period of contribution being a series of groundbreaking astronomical observations from Alexandria during the years AD 127-41 (click here for a full listing of those, with dates). Indeed the first observation which we can date exactly was made by Ptolemy on 26 March 127 while the last was made on 2 February 141 (1*).

Although it was to Astronomy that he largely applied himself, his works on Geography were monumental gifts to future cartographers and his theories were rejuvenated, replicated and furthered in earnest around the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. Many of his innovations are in fact the basis for the world maps we take for granted today. If there is any figure that stands above others in the history of Cartography it is surely Claudius Ptolemaeus.

1* http://www.crystalinks.com/ptolemy.html

~ 'Roman vs. Greek learning'

As was indicated in the previous article, there was a noticeable distinction between the Roman approach to mapmaking and that of the Greeks. By the time Claudius Ptolemaeus was alive, there would have been a marked delineation of systems and scholars. Whitfield informs us that:
Quote:
By the first century AD Greek-Roman Geography formed one intellectual tradition. All the major scientists were Greek, but writing within Roman institutions; owing much to Roman civil and military culture…The Greek genius was peculiarly analytical and theoretical, and to this tradition the Romans contributed little if anything. The typical Roman scientist-philosopher was Pliny, the hunter-gatherer of flora, fauna, facts, artefacts, lore and legend, but utterly lacking of any analytical impulse.
This view of Pliny, both as the flag ship of Roman learning in these fields and as an example of Roman scholarly methods, is borne out in recent reviews by Richard Talbert, (University of North Carolina) regarding two histories on Pliny:

a) Sorcha Carey, "Pliny's Catalogue of Culture: Art and Empire in the Natural History" (Oxford, 2003)
b) Trevor Murphy, "Pliny the Elder's Natural History: The Empire in the Encyclopedia". (Oxford University Press, 2004)
Quote:
Pliny -- despite his active administrative career in several provinces, and his death caused by the desire to observe the eruption of Vesuvius at close range -- gathered most of his learning from books. This was no cause for embarrassment on Pliny's part. On the contrary, it was only because of Roman conquest that detailed knowledge of the world had been unlocked, and only thereby did the opportunity arise to encapsulate it all proudly in an encyclopedia. Greeks had not written this type of work, and such earlier Romans (perhaps Cato the Elder, certainly Varro and Celsus) with the courage to try had plainly lacked the range and depth of far-reaching knowledge that Pliny could command by the Flavian period.

Source: http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2004/2004-12-23.html
But Talbert is only partly correct on one matter. The Greeks, in particular Herodotus, did produce encyclopaedic works. The previous article’s section on Oikoumene deals with this. Pliny’s grand works were significantly detailed in their content but it is worth noting that “the encyclopedia (was) "as a cultural artefact," as he (Murphy) phrases it, and hence "as a source for ancient Roman culture."”

Another support for this distinction comes from Jona Lendering in reference to Pliny the Elder’s ‘Natural History’ [Source] :

In Pliny's view, which was common in Antiquity, "nature" includes what we call "culture". He deals with the entire creation, which is, in the author's stoic view fundamentally good because it is made by God.

This includes an influence quite lacking from Greek workings – religion and politics. Although Ptolemy in the quote at the head of this article refers to Zeus, it is not to the gods that Greek cartographers sought their inspiration. They did not seek to represent their influence in the earth. This, the inclusion of lore and legend to such an extent, is a significant feature in the history of cartography. As we shall see, the religious imagination took full flight and rested control of the world map's prgress from empiricists such as Ptolemy. Moreover, such imaginative inclinations to mapmaking were in full flight in other parts of the world.

Greek mapmaking, geometry and astronomy were far less influenced by the drive from and to hegemony that Roman learning was subject to. Whereas Herodotus, Eratosthenes, Pythagoras and Strabo were encyclopaedic and analytical in their approach, this was more for good method’s sake than for the needs of empire building and maintenance, as applies in Pliny’s case. This ‘straying into legend’ may be attributed to the wider reach of lore and myth available to Roman geographers, a melee of theories so to speak, but it is still possible to glean a distinction between the Roman maps and geographical works as ‘cultural and imperial artefacts’ versus Greek maps as ‘intellectual artefacts’.

Despite these distinctions, Ptolemy was able to bask in these combined works. With the classical Greek world leaving him the material mentioned in the previous article and Pliny leaving his “Natural History” which detailed:

The sky, signs of the zodiac, the four elements, sun, the search for god, fortune, the power of the gods, the planets, eclipses of moon and sun, an eulogy of the first scientists, estimates of the distances between planets, comets, comets as portents, the astronomer Hipparchus of Nicaea, meteors, St Elmo's fire, the weather, the eight main winds, whirlwinds, thunder, lightning and its effects, miraculous celestial happenings, rainbows, mother earth, the spherical shape of the earth, oceans, the circumnavigation of the world, sunrise and sunset, the sun's altitude, the hours of daylight, sundials, climate and race, earthquakes, historical earthquakes, fire, petroleum, naphtha, volcanoes, the circumference of the earth.


Note that the Ptolemy map provided at the end of the previous article is quite lacking of any gods or search for god.

~ ‘The Ptolemaic Paradox’

The same experience in tracing the maps of Ptolemy exists as with the Greeks, whose works he summarised and advanced. That is – there are none. So in essence we have two appearances and periods of influence when looking at the impact Ptolemy had on cartography.

Firstly, there is the Hellenistic or Greek Ptolemy, whom we have met directly above. But this Ptolemy, within 100 years of his death, vanishes from Greek and Roman sources and therefore Europe’s next phase of mapmaking history. We find that the decline of the Roman Empire and the Byzantine world coincides with the utter silence and loss regarding Ptolemy’s work, indeed empirical mapmaking in general. Following the erosion and subtle disregard for his principles as the Roman period drew to a close, we find that there is little or nothing seen or mentioned about the great man after 300AD. Well, not for about one thousand years and not in Europe. For, as Europe went through a rapid and intense period of Christianisation, we find that the ‘ONE world map’ we met in the previous article, is lost and / or disregarded. It was the Arab world’s scholars which kept his work alive and grasped the empirical torch, to carry it on, whilst Europeans contented themselves with mapping a Biblically inspired image of the world.

The second Ptolemy is a Renaissance man, literally. He reappears, quite vaguely and also not in a very widespread fashion in Europe around the 13th and 14th centuries. His strict methodology and analytical approach struck an intellectual chord with the emerging Renaissance mind, particularly the Italian art world’s, which was thinking about perspective in much the same way. Notice the Renaissance collonades, already harking back to the classical age, decorating this printing of Ptolemy's world map in 1482.


The Ptolemaic World Map, printed in 1482, illustrating the works of the Roman geographer Pompinius Mela.

When we see Ptolemy’s work reintroduced it is with open arms; colourful, popular, influential, and in short, the authority. It cut through the murky cloud of the religious imaginative mapping (see the Beatus Map previously posted in 'The First Maps' and 'The Psalter Map' posted in the Preface) which we dominated for nearly 1000 years in Christian Europe. Ptolemy's work, encompassing that of the classical world's, as shall see in a later article, showed the way for keen analytical Renaissance minds.

By the arrival of the 15th century his work had been so reintroduced, and it spread like wildfire through a Europe hungry for knowledge of the world beyond the Ottomans. Those same reproduced maps are below and begin us on the journey toward those which Christopher Columbus, Vasco De Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and their colleagues and rivals all used.

So we can see that despite the initial loss of Ptolemy’s findings and achievements, this has not diminished the impact the following books have made on the image of the world. Thanks to the rediscovery of Ptolemaic texts by Maximus Planudes we have reproductions and interpretations of his work from their original textual basis and the earliest of these start appearing after 1300AD. Here are some examples presented to outline his works.
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Old 29-09-2005, 09:49   #9
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Ptolemy: Part 2

---------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:

~ His Relevant Works:

1) 'The Almagest or Al-Majisti' (The Master) – Astronomy
2) 'Geography' - Geography & Cartography
3) 'Tetrabiblos' - Astronomy
4) 'Handy Tables' - Astronomy

~ His Major Contributions:

1) The Size and Location of the Known World: Stadia
2) Locating of Specific Places: Encyclopaedic School
3) The Mathematical Contruction of the World: The introduction of Longitudes & Latitudes
4) The Geocentric Universe, rather than Heliocentric or Sun centred universe.

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~ 'His Relevant Works':

These are all thumbnails of much larger images. Click the thumbnail for the largest your monitor would like to handle, then click that image for the full size.

1) 'The Almagest or Al-Majesti' (The Master / The Great Book) – Astronomy / Mathematics


In Latin, Translated by George Trebizond, ca. 1481

This is one of the most significant works of astronomy, mathematics and astrology the world has ever seen. The influence of which was felt for one thousand years throughout Europe and the Middle East. It summarised the classical world's findings and developments (including those assumed from other cultures like Babylon, Phoenicia and India) and in doing so lead the whole region to believe that the Earth was at the centre of the universe.

This Geocentric view may be seen as an extension of the Heliocentric world as put forward by Hipparchus.

But, as noted, such works were lost and / or neglected after 300AD, especially in Europe. The first translations to appear were into Arabic and were made in the 9th century, the most famous being that sponsored by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Ma'mun (r.813-833). The work was commissioned for 'The Bayt al-Hikma' (House of Wisdom), which was established by Al-Ma'mun specifically to gather and collate the classical Greek world's wisdom, together with Persian, Indian, Arabic and other scholarly traditions. The most famous of the scholars to thrive in this environment was perhaps Mohammed ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. I will write a full article on such institutions and the Arab progression of the world map - plenty to tell!

Western Europe had to rediscover Ptolemy from such translations of Arabic versions. It was in Muslim Spain (Al Andalus / Andalusia) that the works started filtering through, particularly in Toledo, Madrid and Cordova. This translation process of astonomical works, such as the Almagest, was expedited and should rightly be credited to Maslama of Madrid (d. c1007). The creation by Maslama of a "school" of astronomers constituted by his own disciples and their students marks the beginning of science as an organized activity in al-Andalus, where translators were greatly encouraged. I will cover this all later. You can read extensively about scientific advances in Al Andalus here.

In the twelfth century a Spanish version was produced, later turned into Latin under the patronage of Emperor Frederick II. Another Latin version, this time directly from the Arabic, was produced by Gerard of Cremona, who found his text in Toledo in Spain. Gerard of Cremona was unable to translate many technical terms, even retained the Arabic Abrachir for Hipparchus. Read a very good summary of Gerard's life and works here.

George Trebizond, one of the notable Greek scholars who came to Italy in the early fifteenth century, made a new translation of the "Almagest" from the Greek for Pope Nicholas V between March and December of 1451. Due to a dispute about the quality of Trebizond's commentary on the text, the translation was never dedicated to Nicholas. This very elaborate manuscript of the translation, with the figures drawn in several colors, was dedicated to Pope Sixtus IV by George's son Andreas. These pages show Book VI Chapter 7, on the computation of the duration of solar and lunar eclipses.


Georg Peurbach and Johannes Regiomontanus, Epitome of the Almagest [Source with more maps and manuscripts]

The "Epitome of the Almagest" was written between 1460 and 1463 by Georg Peurbach and Johannes Regiomontanus at the suggestion of Cardinal Bessarion. It gave Europeans the first sophisticated understanding of Ptolemy's astronomy, and was studied by every competent astronomer of the sixteenth century. The illustration here shows the distance of the sun from the earth as 1210 terrestrial radii (about 4,800,000 miles), which is too small by a factor of twenty, but gives a solar parallax (the maximum displacement due to observing the sun from the surface rather than from the center of the earth) of less than 3 minutes, still well below the limit of observational accuracy.

2) 'Geography' - Geography & Cartography

This is the text which Maximus Planudes found and translated into Latin, thereby beginning the slow process of Europe's recovery from t4eh Dark Ages. When? Well he lived between 1260 - 1330AD, mostly in Constantinople. Greek works were very popular in Byzantium in the 1200s, as spectacles of craftsmanship by the lay man and as significant treasurers by scholars. These often had maps drawn in accompaniment, sometimes because the books were about Geography, but also as part of a growing tradition of including maps as an attractive cover or fronstispiece. The recreated Ptolemaic map which accompanied the reproduction of 'Geography' was one of the world's first ever 'best sellers'. It was a massive hit!

Ptolemy’s ‘Geography’ is indeed a monolithic and extensive work in the history of Cartography, of which two versions / volumes exist. It is the most theoretical and analytical of all the relevant works and of the most use to cartographers.

The two sections are: The ‘A Recension’ containing twenty-six large regional maps, and the ‘B Recension’, containing sixty-four smaller regional maps and four large additional maps. This fundamental work (in both parts), was considered the benchmark for cartographers of the Age of Discovery. It:

- Summed up and criticised the work of earlier writers (see previous article)
- Offered instruction in laying out maps by three different methods of projection (see below)
- Provided coordinates for some eight thousand places
- Treated and refined such basic concepts as geographical latitude and longitude.

This is one of the earliest reappearances of Ptolemy’s work in Europe, following shortly on the heels of Planudes' translation.


From a non-religious codices on Mount Athos, which also contains Ptolemy's Geography: c13th-14th and the Geography of Strabo. http://www.culture.gr/2/21/218/218ae/e218ae20.html


Maps by Nicholas Germanus, In Latin, ca. 1470

Ptolemy's "Geography" contains instructions for drawing maps of the entire "oikoumene" (inhabited world) and particular regions, along with the longitudes and latitudes of about eight thousand locations in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The maps in manuscripts of the "Geography," however, date only from about 1300, after the text was rediscovered by Maximus Planudes. Shown here is the additional map of Europe which reveals Ptolemy's systematic exaggeration of west to east distances, particularly in the eastward extension of Scotland and the west to east slope of Italy.


After Maximus Planudes, Ptolemy's ‘Geography’ – from ‘B recension’

3) 'Tetrabiblos' - Astronomy & Astrology

You can read the whole work here.

The Tetrabiblos (Greek) is also known as Quadrapartitium (Latin) meaning 'Four Books'. The Tetrabiblos has been referred to as 'the surrender of science'* and has been referred to as evidence of Ptolemy's wandering methods. This is indeed unfair because Ptolemy reveals no interest in magic, superstition or ideas which fall beyond the realm of reason. He adhered strictly to the current scientific views of his era. And the tradition of honouring the work of those who went before was and still is a significant obligation for cartographers.

This work has been related to Astrology also. Although we know Ptolemy did not invent his methods of astrology we can see how these elements of his work were taken up with vigour by Arab scholars to follow 700-1000 years later. This ensured the constant symbiosis experienced between the fields of Astronomy and Astrology. The Tetrabiblos offered a detailed explanation of the philosophical framework of astrology, enabling its practitioners to answer critics on scientific as well as religious grounds. His expert defence of the validity of astrology put forward arguments that were so sound and pertinent to his day that Lynn Thorndike, in his 'History of Magic and Experimental Science', writes:
Quote:
Only the opponents of astrology appear to have remained ignorant of the 'Tetrabiblos', continuing to make criticisms of the art which do not apply to Ptolemy's presentation of it or which had been specifically answered by him. Thus Sextus Empiricus, attacking astrology about 200 AD, does not mention the Tetrabiblos and some of the Christian critics of astrology apparently had not read it.
* Bouché-Leclercq, AG., Rev. Hist., LXV, p257, note 3 - "c'est la capitulation de la science"

http://www.skyscript.co.uk/ptolemy.html

4) 'Handy Tables' - Astronomy


In Greek, Ninth century

Ptolemy's "Handy Tables", intended for practical computation, were edited by Theon of Alexandria in the fourth century A.D. and became, with various modifications, the basis of later astronomical tables in Greek, Arabic, and Latin. The "Handy Tables" allow the calculation of solar, lunar, and planetary positions and eclipses of the sun and moon far more rapidly than the tables included in the "Almagest." This early and elegant uncial manuscript is well-known for its illumination, which appears to descend from a prototype in late antiquity as can clearly be seen in this map of the constellations, drawn elegantly in white against the dark blue of the night sky, showing the northern part of the zodiac.

~ 'His Major Contributions':

1) The Size and Location of the Known World: Stadia
2) Accurate Locating of Places
3) The Mathematical Contruction of the World: The introduction of Longitudes & Latitudes
4) The Geocentric Universe, rather than Heliocentric or Sun centred universe.

These shall be dealt with in a specific article to come.
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Old 07-10-2005, 03:03   #10
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INNER AND OUTER WORLDS: Buddhist Religious Mapping.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:

~ 'Gotenjiku-Zu and the Role of Buddhist Mapping In Edo Japan'

3 mapping styles in Edo Japan
Gotenjiku-Zu
The Pilgrimage of Hsuang-Tsang
Map of Nansenbushu (Jambu-dviipa)
Lake Manasarowar, Mount Kailash and The River Ganges

Aid to contemplation?

~ 'Jain Chart of the World and the Eight Fold Path' (c15th)

A crash course in Buddhism
Shumisen-gizu (A Representation of Mount Sumeru / Kailash)
Graphical Allusion
Hindu Yantras

~ Summary

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

~ 'Gotenjiku-Zu and the Role of Buddhist Mapping In Edo Japan'

Background:
The Edo period (Japanese: 江戸時代, Edo-jidai) is a division of Japanese history running from 1600 to 1867. The period marks the governance of the Edo or Tokugawa Shogunate which was officially established in 1603 by the first Edo shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. The period ended in 1867 with the restoration of the Imperial rule by the 15th and last shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu. The Edo period is also known as the beginning of the early modern period of Japan. Source
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiroo Aoyama ~ History Department, National Museum of Japanese History

Broadly speaking, there were three categories of world map in Edo-period Japan. The oldest of these was the Buddhist map, which continued to be produced during this period in line with pre-existing tradition. The second type of world map was inspired by Matteo Ricci's Great map of Ten Thousand Countries which reached Japan from China in the early Edo period, and the third category was the Dutch-type world map which emerged in the mid Edo period based on Dutch scholarship. Although each new type of map took centre stage when it first appeared, production continued in all these categories until the end of the Edo period. In other words, maps based on each of these three quite different worldviews coexisted in early-modern Japan.

http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/e-rekihaku/116/
But the first map I would like to draw our attention to is from the earlier of the three traditions described by Aoyama. That of the Buddhist tradition. For this article concerns itself with the role of religion in mapping this world we live on. Before we continue, let us note that Buddhist maps that we shall see co-existed with geographical maps in Japan, throughout the Edo period.

'Gotenjiku-Zu Map'
Click thumbnail for big pic, then that image for full size.


This is indeed known as the 'Gotenjiku-Zu Map' and is from Japan (1364). It is very much a map of the religious imagination. It depicts the concerns of the religious mind. Like many Christian maps of the period, which placed Jerusalem at the centre of the world, this map centres on India and in particular the sites associated with the Buddha.

This map was THE MAP in Japan from the 14th right through to the 17th centuries. As mentioned it existed alongside 'geographical maps' for a long time into the c18th, with its format being repeated by others (see below). The fact that it is not 'geographically accurate' is totally insignificant. It employed geographical ideas but only for a graphical presentation of the real world, as seen through Buddhist eyes. We should note that pilgrims and merchants also carried charts which showed road layouts and routes through mountain and forests. So this map was not used for travelling as such. There were different maps for that. This was intended as an aid for contemplation. Let us hear from the maker of the map himself to gain an insight into why it was made and its purpose:
Quote:
"With Prayer in my heart for the rise of Buddhism in posterity, I engaged myself in the work of making this copy, wiping my eyes which are dim with age, and feeling as if I myself were travelling through India."

In Whitfield, The Image of the World, 20 centuries of mapmaking
The whole map is based heavily upon the Pilgrimage made by Hsuang-Tsang, a Chinese Buddhist monk who wandered all over east, central and south Asia. You can see his epic route plotted in a red line all over the map and can be seen even more clearly on the Map of Nansenbushu (Jambu-dviipa) below. You can search his major work: "A Record of the Regions to the west of China".

Here I have added pointers to show the significant areas on the map. Note that the heart land of the Buddha, India, takes pride of place in the centre of the map - Mount Kailasa, The Ganges etc. Explanations below.



Lake Manasarowar: "(also known as Lake Manasarovar or Mapam Yumco Lake) is a lake found on the Tibetan Plateau near Mount Kailash and Lake Rakshastal. It is the highest freshwater lake in the world. The Brahmaputra River (the Tsangpo), Indus River, the Sutlej River and the Karnali River all trace their sources to this lake. (All visible on the map) This lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called "Manasarover", which is a combination of the words Manas (mind) and Sarovar (lake)." (Wiki)

You can see Lake Manasarowar much more clearly on this Map of Nansenbushu (Jambu-dviipa) dating from the late Edo period ie. 19th century.



Mount Kailash (Meru):


In Hindu mythology, this mountain is Shiva's 'linga' and Manasarowar below it (not visible in the photo) is the 'yoni' of Shiva's wife. Mount Kailash was also known as Meru in Vedic literature.


Shumisen-gizu (A Representation of Mount Sumeru), detail, first half of the 19th century.

In Buddhist philosophy, a giant mountain called Mount Sumeru (Shumisen) was believed to stand at the centre of the world. It is also the venue of an epic battle between two opposing forces in the universe in Buddhist mythology.

Even today, one can travel to Tibet and Nepal and meet all manner of Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, even Sufi mystics wandering the mountainous deserts of north India, Nepal and Tibet. The elevated setting, desolate landscape and utter solitude have attracted such mystics as far back as activity in the area has been recorded.

Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailas. Pilgrims of several religions all believe that circumambulating Mount Kailas on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. The route is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailas is 52 kilometers (32 miles) long. This ritual may be likened to those conducted by Christians, often Catholics, when visiting holy sites such as Lourdes, Fatima and so on.

Further, Lake Manasarowar is often associated with Shangri-la, the mythic paradise of eastern folk lore. So again, another imaginative reason to centre the map and the viewers contemplative mind on this area.

So we can see how this map drew the pilgrim of medieval Japan to the heartland and epicentre of his religion and worked to captivate his mind. It can only be reiterated that I believe its primary function was as an aid to contemplation.

~ 'Jain Chart of the World and the Eight Fold Path' (c15th)

This function is exemplified by the following map, known as "Manuslyaloka" (The World of Man).


Click thumbnail for big pic, then that image for full size.

This is arranged in a design which is perfectly symmetrical on a number of axes. The numbers four and eight being especially important, as the title of this section indicates. This is not dissimilar to Greeks believing that the world was created in perfect balance and therefore a fourth, hitherto unknown, continent was often referred to where Australia is. Why? Because there were three known continents and they believed the world's natural symmetry would naturally have created a fourth continent 'to balance' the world. The parallel ends with this notion of 'geographical balance' however.

In order to understand the significance of this symmetry and the numbers used in the design we must look at 'The Eight Fold Path', which is writ in large all over this map. Here are some details from the Jain World Chart. Please take note of the number of axes of symmetry.

8 panels. (sorry my written Hindi / Sanskrit is far too rusty to work on translating any of the text)


This extract is a fairly nifty, concise summary of what would be an otherwise long story of the maind Buddhist principles!
Quote:
Buddhism does not aim to explain God, creation or eternal concepts. Such truths can only be found within the heart of a person. Whatever one holds within the heart is what is. What Buddhism does aim to do is help us overcome the chaos of this world and point us to a path that leads us to our own spirituality. We are all searching for the same things- freedom from our pain and realizing who we truly are, deep within. The Buddha Siddharthe Guatama, in his contemplation, realized the truth about suffering and the path to liberation from it. This Eight-Fold Path and Four Noble Truths make up the foundation of Buddhism.

http://www.boloji.com/buddhism/00110.htm

1 - Right View.

The Four Noble Truths:

1. The truth about suffering is that it exists. Life is suffering. Birth, aging and dying is suffering.
2. Our reaching into the world of dreams, our desire to fulfill what cannot be fulfilled is what brings us our suffering.
3. Only when we have broken the mirrors of illusion can we end our suffering, and
4. the Eight-Fold Path can help us to break our habits of suffering.


2 - Right Thought.

6 Methods for removing defilments of the mind.

1. Restraining: Restrain from what pleases the senses but bears poison.
2. Using: Use all that we are, all that we have, all there is to cultivate peace.
3. Tolerating: Tolerate all adversity, and never abandon our gardens to the wild.
4. Avoiding: Avoid all that is impure and spoils the soil of the mind. Tend only to what is pure and that which nurtures the pure.
5. Destroying: Remove the defilements by destroying them from the root.
6. Developing: Never cease to develop our skills of peacefulness.

3 - Right Speech.

1. Words of Honesty:
Speaking without truth can be a means to our end and to the end of others. Therefore, honesty is always the best policy.
2. Words of Kindness:
Speaking words of kindness, we will never be the cause that divides hearts or puts brother against brother. We become peacemakers.
3. Words that are Nurturing:
Words that comfort rather than harm the heart, shall travel to the heart, and bring long lasting peace.
4. Words that are Worthy:
Speaking only what is worthy and valuable for the moment.


4 - Right Action.

The Golden Rule in Buddhism is: Do no harm.

The Buddha practiced the following code of conduct in his own life:

1. Respect life
2. Earn all that you have
3. Control your desire, rather than allow desire to control you.


5 - Right Livelihood.

In this life, we have the opportunity to liberate ourselves from the cycle of suffering and find peace. We also have the opportunity to help others break free. Does one's way of life support or hinder the ways of Peace?

6 - Right Effort.

It is difficult to maneuver peacefully in a world of chaos. Therefore, our decision to take up the path to liberation must be firm, and executed with right effort.

7 - Right Mindfulness.

1. The Body: Paying attention to our physical being can help us direct the mind away from the distractions of the world. Focusing on our breath, our movements, our actions, our components, and on the sheer miracle of our physical existence we can arrive at calmness and clarity.
2. Feelings:
Paying attention to our external and internal feelings, observing their rise and fall, can help us realize their origination, development and decline. Understanding the nature of our feelings can help us let go and break our habits of clinging.
3. Mind:
Turning the mind upon itself, observing our thoughts, can help us realize the origination and aim of our thoughts. With this understanding, we can understand the nature of the mind and overcome our thought habits of suffering.
4. Mental Qualities:
Paying attention to our mental state of mind can help us recognize the five hindrances of our mentality (sensual desire, ill-will, laziness, anxiety and doubt).


8 - Right Concentration

Single-minded concentration on the path to Peace (the Eight-Fold path) is right concentration.
Now let us look at more extracted details from the Jain chart and see the graphical allusion in action:

Star overlaid with a square - 8 corners in all.


A grouping of 4 such stars, which is mirrored at the other end of the map, making 8 in all.


The square layout in the Shumisen-gizu, representation of Mount Meru, is in parallel with these designs also, which can be found in many mantra (spoken meditation aid) and yantras (graphic meditation aids) from both Hindu and Buddhist religious practises. The same designs and graphical allusions may be seen in this Hindu yantra to the Goddess Lakshmi.


8 petals on the lotus, 4 corners of the square etc

These designs and numeric patterns are ubiquitous in Hindu and Buddhist religious art. Their function can be likened to that of a rosary with its sequence of beads in groupings of 4, 10, 4 and also certain stain glass window designs.

~ 'Summary'

So we can summarise with the following points:

- The known world is shown in (mathematical and idealistically spiritual) harmony.

- The world is organised by mathematical structures according to the doctrine of these people.

- They are largely aids for contemplation and not exploration, travel, conquest.

- The geographical mapping aspect only applies as a form of graphic technique and even then it takes 'a backseat'.

- They worked to encourage pilgrimages to the areas discussed.

- They co-existed with other geographical maps, which were employed for quite different purposes.

I need only add one phrase to describe the significance of the circular pattern of both the continents in the Jain chart, and the circular case around the square world in the Shumisen-gizu:

The eternal cycle of reincarnation.

There is also a geographical aspect to the maps presented but that is far less signficant, for us and these mapmakers, and those aspects may be dealt with later anyway.

The next article will deal with the Christian versions of the same mentality and map purpose.
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Old 23-01-2006, 06:35   #11
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This article is written by a friend of mine named Chris Wigley. It covers exactly what the follow-up section I was preparing would have done, but far better than I could have achieved. It was written for his History Degree at Edinbugh quite a few years now and is being posted with illustrations, examples and links for extra reading. No changes have been made to the text other than for presentation and formating purposes.

You will note that the same dynamics that were being outlined in the previuos article on Buddhist Mapping appear here too. eg. replace Mount Kailash with Jerusalem as the centre of the spiritual world, the denigration of scientific methods in favour of religious values.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

INNER AND OUTER WORLDS: Christian Religious Mapping in The Mappae Mundi (Intro)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
In this article:

~ The Orientation of the Medieval Mind

~ The Four Major Medieval Mapping Traditions:

1) tripartite ("T-O")
2) quadripartite (with the addition of the antipodes)
3) zonal ('Macrobian')
4) 'transitional' (complex, eg Hereford)

~ Christianity, Geography and Science

~ Role of The Marvellous: Escapism, Morals and Distant Places

~ Simultaneous representation of past, present and future.

~ Summary

-------------------------------------------------------------------------


*Medieval & renaissance travellers and travel literature [4ma]

*Does their lack of a scientific basis only enhance the historical value of medieval mappae mundi as guides to the medieval mentality?


By Chris Wigley



~ "A man who has faith in [God]… is altogether better than another who measures the sky and counts the stars." ~ St. Augustine

~ "There is a peanuts cartoon in which Lucy asks Snoopy whether he can read a map. 'Of course I can", Snoopy replies, 'I just don't know what all those squares and dots, and lines and numbers, and names mean."



Snoopy's point is resonant with the basic assumption of this essay, namely that a map can give us, as historians, much more than geographical information. A map is always a product of its society, but the mappae mundi of medieval europe exemplify the strong connections between map-making and other aspects of society which we can find in all maps. They speak eloquently to us of "subconscious as well as conscious values;" indeed Kimble argues that "we can catch much more of the flavour of… the Middle Ages by a hasty glance at one of the crude Beatus representations of the world than by ploughing through many… dry pages of compilations."

Beatus Map


Click Thumbnail for bigger image.
Spoiler for Large Scan:

A simple way of demonstrating the eloquence of any map is to use the example of orientation. Most of the mappae mundi were oriented with east 'at the top', hence dominant. On a basic level, this reflected the significance of the east as the site of paradise, eden. Modern maps are of course oriented primarily with north dominant. We can take this in many ways, but a straightforward interpretation is that it represents the pragmatic nature of maps in our society – they are still oriented to work in harmony with a compass.

This leads us to a discussion which must be dealt with swiflty before the essay can progress, namely that of defining what the mappae mundi were not before we get on to discuss what they were, and why they are useful to the historian. Edson frames our problem nicely, reminding us that "until the recent revolution in the history of cartography, medieval maps were looked upon as quaint, amusing, and quite simply WRONG." For us this is thankfully irrelevant. Fundamentally, the term "mappa mundi" does not mean "map of the world." Literally it means "cloth of the world;" figuratively, the term "estoire," which can be translated story or history, is more accurate. In short then, the mappae mundi are more than "maps" – they form a corpus of work which through format, content, and symbolism can tell us a great deal about medieval life.

So, to demonstrate this we must first look at the maps themselves: their different forms, the origins of their way of representing geographical space and the sources of their non-geographical content. Secondly we will look at what geographical role they did have; thirdly, at the symbols and symbolism of the maps. Next we will examine different functions which the maps fulfilled, namely: their religious and devotional status, their standing as marvellous objects, the dynamic that they create between morality and space, and finally their character as expressions of active time. We will then be in a position to draw some conclusions about relationships between medieval societies and the mappae mundi.

Firstly, then, the mappae mundi themselves. There are four main types which fall under these headings:

1) Tripartite ("T-O")
Spoiler for Illustrated Examples:

EXAMPLE 1: A Psalter Map c1250 (appeared in a prayer book)


EXAMPLE 2: Inset T-O Illumination from Lambert of St. Omer's Liber Floridus, notice the T-O design on the sceptre.


EXAMPLE 3:Decorative Panel preceeding Climate Zonal and T-O maps, Giacomo Foresti, 1503. TO format on the right and the zonal on left.


Extra Reading & Examples:

TO examples 1

Classic Example of a TO map concept at Henry-Davis

2) Quadripartite (with the addition of the antipodes),
Spoiler for Illustrated Examples:

Interpretive redrawing of the St. Sever Beatus world map


Extra Reading at Henry-Davis

3) Zonal ('Macrobian')
Spoiler for Illustrated Examples:

Macrobian Monograph at Henry-Davis

Zonal world map, Lambert of St. Omer, Martianus Capella, Ghent copy,1120 A.D.
4) 'Transitional' (complex, eg Hereford).
Spoiler for Illustrated Examples:

Hereford Mappa Mundi c1300 (Thumbnail)


Evesham Mappa Mundi 1391 (Thumbnail)


Spoiler for Large Scan:
These last will be the primary focus of this essay, but the very fact of these differing types or paradigms can tell historians a great deal, which we would not know if the maps were all constructed along modern scientific lines.


...continued in next post...
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Christian Religious Mapping in The Mappae Mundi continued....


Firstly, religion is the bedrock of the mappae mundi. Biblical influences were fundamental to the maps' intent and creation – even the earliest of the T-O maps represent the adaption of classical knowledge to the requirements of the Church, in other words a 'Christianisation' of the oikumene or known world. As knowledge increased, the mapmakers attempted to adapt their creations to a world which no longer fit the classical precedent, but adaptions arising from religious considerations were present from the start. For example the T of the map, is representative of a "tau" or early Christian cross, embracing the oikumene to its 'limit' at the outer Ocean.

Jerome Map

Jerome's map of the holy land from the fourth century gave biblical nameplaces rather than contemporary ones – transforming "profane into sacred space." Another example is the practise of naming the continents after Noah's sons, where sometimes even their entire lineages are written in their respective lands. Finally, when taken in diachronic perspective, the changing forms of mappae mundi represent the decline of the classical tradition and the ascendance of Biblical considerations.

Beatus Monograph

These changing instances of the mappa mundi can be examined from another angle – they show a very dynamic series of world-views, in that the world was a very different place to the maker of the Hereford mappa mundi than it had been to the scribes of the early T-O maps. Increases in decoration, appreciation of the marvellous, changes in reported knowledge of the far corners of the oikumene: all of these changes which are recorded in the mappae mundi are representative of changes in society which are not necessarily accessable to historians in other recorded forms.

Finally, some aspects of change in the mappae mundi demonstrate the static nature of Christendom's attitude toward pragmatic geography of wide scope. The later maps are all copies of copies of copies, and deviation, even from already inaccurate sources, is their hallmark. This was both passive, in terms of copying errors, and active, in terms of making a map fit a preconceived shape or plan, as we see with the Beatus rectangles. As discussed above, they were not supposed simply to be 'maps' in the modern sense, and their utility to the historian derives from this – their belief that authenicity comes from knowledge of ancient authority rather than actual experience makes them representative of their age. This ancient authority could be biblical, but it could also be from classical sources.

So, in order fully to understand the significance of the mappae mundi, we must move from religious aspects to look briefly at the classical and antique sources that their makers utilised. Important sources included Pliny, Orosius, Macrobius, Solinus, Isidore and an assumed Roman original map of the oikumene. These were sources both for the geographical data which formed the basis of the mappae and for the 'fillers' or non-geographical contents, which are equally important for our study. Of course, it is important to remember that, just as "mappa mundi" could mean a written list of places or phenomena in medieval times, most of the sources were written rather than graphical – for example the depiction of paradise in the Hereford map is lifted straight from Isidore's description in his encyclopedia. Much of the material in the mappae is graphical representation of written sources, whether biblical, antique or classical.

However, it is also important to note the role played by text in the maps. They were created within a culture where illustration, text and personal 'live' instruction worked together for instructive purposes. This can be seen on the Hereford map, where the author asks for the prayers of all who "see, read or hear this map." It can also be demonstrated by pointing out that most of the extant mappae mundi are placed on the first or second pages of codexes – they are present to work in harmony with the texts rather than to stand alone. The large maps are backed up with text both internally (by large sections of explanatory text) and externally (by the written sources on which they are based). This creates an interesting dynamic between the 'factual' text and the 'interpretative' geography and illustrations. The implications of this in terms of medieval mentality, in the context of approaches to real and ideal concepts, will be discussed below, but for the time being it will suffice to establish the relationship between the mappae mundi and their sources.

A number of points about this connection are relevant to the medieval historian. Firstly, Harvey and Woodward's lushly illustrated History of Cartography demonstrates graphically what it is very hard to explain textually – the clear relationship between the Roman administrative and conceptual maps, and the medieval mappae mundi, in other words the continuing influence of classical knowledge throughout the period. Circularity, style, methods of representation: all are clearly linked. So this graphical similarity is the first point. The second point is the continuing significance of the Roman administrative boundaries – as late the time of Gervase of Tillbury we hear the assertion that the Roman lines of demarcation were the "natural order of provinces," and the actual lines of the boundaries are still found even on some maps of the later period. A third angle is the maps' association with events, places and phenomena of the classical past – for example Troy, Carthage and the monstrous races are found on both the classical maps and the medieval mappae.

However, the derivative structure of the mappae mundi should not blind us to the fact that they did have a role as geographical tools. This is a delicate area, and a few points should be made initially. Firstly, as Kimble says in his inimitable style, the makers of the mappae mundi "would have branded any man a fool who might have supposed that he could determine the distance between London and Jerusalem by putting a ruler across a map." As this suggests, the mappae were not supposed to be literal representations of geography, let alone to scale. Indeed this would have been considered irreligious – as St. Augustine wrote, "a man who has faith in [God]… is altogether better than another who measures the sky and counts the stars," in other words knowledge of the physical world was considered secondary to knowledge of the spiritual realm. Thus the mappae did not reflect the real extent of contemporary geographical knowledge, and were not intended for use in the same sense as the later portolan charts.

Nonetheless, the specific nature of their geographical utility – that of the journey to Jerusalem – places them in their age and tells the historian more than a general geographical aim would. We know, from the inclusion of small towns of no other significance, that the places listed often came from pilgrim itineraries. Thus the large mappae mundi were in some senses "literal guides for the pilgrim and crusader." The period of the Crusades and the initiation of mass pilgrimage called for geographical documents which emphasised the holy land in particular, and the mappae mundi certainly accomplish this: the Ebstorf map lists more towns in Palestine than in the whole of Asia. So, the maps are useful documents for the process of change which accompanied the Crusades, particularly in terms of the increase of foreign travel.


Jerusalem, the centre of the world, in a Psalter map dated c1250.

Further, the mappae mundi are resonant with the missionary activity of their time. Some of the maps depict the twelve apostles in the various locales with which they are Biblically associated, such as St. Thomas in India. The strange pictures which fill the maps (particularly the cynocephali, symbolic of heretics) also suggest the prestige and necessity of distant conversion. Thus the maps are documents of the medieval fascination with Asian Christianity, alluded to by the Prester John legend, which speaks of "men here as small as seven year old children… yet they are good Christians." So, the mappae mundi were not geographically accurate, but they were useful nonetheless, and examining this utility can lead the historian to other significant areas.

Running parallel to practical representation is symbolic representation and signification. The symbolism of the complex maps is rich and diverse, but one example which is demonstrative is that of the centrality of Jerusalem. Here we see the again the blurred boundaries between theology and geography. Whilst by no means all maps were centred on the holy land, those that were tended to be the exact ones which are the focus of this essay – those with the least semblance of 'scientific' basis. The concept of an 'umbilicus mundi', an 'omphalos', a 'navel of the world' – in short a geographical centre which is symbolically linked with creation – is found in the maps of many cultures: Islamic maps were centred on Mecca (with the backing of Ptolemy), Greek maps on Delphi, Roman maps on the eternal city itself. So, the Christian mappae mundi emerged from and continued a tradition which had strong preconceptions about the symbolic status of geographical space. Biblical sources, antique scholars, pilgrim experiences and crusading ideology worked together to heighten the importance of Jerusalem; medieval cartography was also influenced by the belief that natural phenomena were signs indicating the will of God. So, Jerusalem's centrality on the later mappae mundi is resonant with its status as a rarefied symbol of symbols, a distinct and unique place on earth which was symbolic of a non-geographical ideal.

This leads us to a consideration of the role of the mappae mundi as religious and devotional objects. The maps lack a scientific basis, but they have a solid foundation in religion, again indicative of their epoch. It is not by chance that the three most elaborate surviving maps are found in: a nunnery (Ebstorf), the eponymous Psalter, and a cathedral (Hereford). Most of the mappae mundi deal with the concept that God created the world and is still present throughout it – the Ebstorf is the most literal, with the world represented as the body of Christ, but the letters MORS around the edge of the Hereford fulfil the same function of leading the mind to the eternal.

Ebstorf Monograph


Ebstorf Colour Map at Henry-Davis. Link.


This function of the maps – to inpire meditation and spiritual instruction – is described by Fra Paolino Venetto in the fourteenth century: "I think that without a world map it is not just difficult but impossible to make [oneself] an image of, or even for the mind to grasp, what is said of Noah [and other Biblical traditions]." So, the mappae mundi could expand religious consciousness, but they also served to remind the viewer of the omnipotence of God – for example via the common representation of Jesus with his orb of power inscribed with a T-O map.

The mappae mundi also speak of medieval conceptions of the marvellous. The large maps were at once a celebration of and statement about marvellous phenomena, and marvellous objects themselves. This reflects a growing taste for the marvellous throughout the period of the maps' creation. Indeed "perhaps the chief reason for travel outside one's parish in the middle ages was to see the wonders along the way." Wonders in this sense, of course, could be large cities, magnificent ships or holy wells as much as dog-headed men. This is corroborated by regulations from Oxford University in the thirteenth century stating that "singing, or reciting poetry… or chronicles of different kingdoms, or the wonders of the world" were suitable subjects for entertainment. The idea of the maps as having a distractive function via marvels has been picked up on by the Reverends Moir and Letts in their book on the Hereford map, where they argue that the mappae mundi form "a certain cure for melancholy. He would be a very block who was not affected by them." Thus, the maps fit with St. Augustine's argument that god created marvels to demonstrate his power and and "revitalize man's sense of wonder."


Recreations of distant humanoids in the Medieval Imagination (Thanks to Jonatas!)

We can now analyse the relationship, within the mappae mundi and hence the societies which created them, between morality and location. A simple demonstration of this was mentioned in the introduction – the association of East with redemption. The analysis can now be extended. The transitional mappae mundi place value judgements on space in the same way that the macrobian maps designate spatial climatic judgements. The emphasis on itinerary and the holy land in the mappae defines them as tools helping towards pilgrimage and hence associate them with the concept of imitatio Christi, which is reliant on the physical space of the holy land being imbued with spiritual characteristics. Jerusalem is at the centre, personifying a state of grace, whereas at the edges of the maps we find the monstrous races, whose physical deformity is symbolic of moral degeneracy. This aspect of the mappae mundi is found throughout medieval thought, for example Isidore's judgement that "In keeping with the differences in climate… the Romans are stately, Greeks shifting, Africans sneaky, Gauls warlike by nature…" Moralistic views of geography and climate reached an extreme with the maps of Opicinus de Canistris, which made land masses into stylised and demonic spaces.


Opicinus de Canistris world map, 1296 - 1300


Opicinus de Canistris world map, 1296 - 1300, flipped

More reading on this map.

To conclude this section, we may look at the escapism associated with distant lands. We can perhaps see the inclusion of the monstrous races as a form of temptation – Le Goff argues that by the inclusion of the wonderful and marvellous at the outer stretches of the oikumene "the strict morality imposed by the church was contrasted with the discomfiting attraction of a world of bizarre tastes… where man… could give himself over to polygamy, incest and eroticism." This is totally reliant on geography carrying a moral burden – the bizarrre and the distant are intertwined and interdependent, and both changed as knowledge of the world increased and distant lands became known and charted.

Hereford Mappa Mundi Marvels - Mediterranean and Africa

So, having examined the placement of morality into geography, we can now turn our attention to the process of giving a geographical document a sense of passing time. In the mappae mundi the past literally becomes another country, or to put it another way, the maps represent "a projection of history onto a geographic framework." This is backed up by the description of the Hereford map by its author: an 'estoire', a history or story, something which is inherently defined as time-dynamic rather than time-static. Past events share the same significance as mountains or rivers in the maps: the crucifiction is the most obvious event to feature, but other events are also depicted – the passage of the Israelites, Moses on mount Sinai, the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the stable scene at Bethlehem and so on. Also, events which took place over a period of time are shown simultaneously – for example on the Ebstorf map the Three Kings are seen both leaving the East and arriving in Bethlehem. Another interesting example is found on the fragment of a map from the Duchy of Cornwall – the last half of an Ages of Man series shows a man in maturity, old age, purgatory (pictured with a bowl of fire) and finally as an angel. Hence time passed through the grave – representation was by no means limited to temporal time, but was indicative of time eternal.

Thus the mappa mundi could simultaneously represent the totality of Christian history: past, present and future. This was done via symbols of creation, salvation and final judgement. The symbology is rich to a degree which tells us a great deal about medieval mentalities. One outstanding example is that of Mt. Calvary which, it has been argued "merged with the cartography of the High Middle Ages to become both the literal and allegorical centre of the earth." This precise geographic spot was considered the birthplace of Adam, the site where Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac, the scene where Melchizedech offered sacrifice, and of course the place of Christ's crucifiction. Hence Christ's sacrificial blood baptised the first man as he himself prepared to ascend to heaven, whence he would sit in judgment at the end of the world (as he is pictured at the top of the Hereford map). Thus the geographical representation of time in the mappae mundi is resonant with highly complex medieval approaches to the passage and simultanaeity of time.

This leads us to a consideration of attitudes towards the real and the ideal, and how their representation in the mappae mundi can help the historian. One of the first points in this essay was that the maps represented a Christianisation of pagan geography, and thus started a process of imbuing geography with religious purpose. In this context, the maps become real geographical symbols of ideal sacred geography, visual representations of an invisible 'place'. Beatus's feelings on this subject (as expressed in both his unscientific maps and his words) are significant: he felt that profane or scientific geography was "the theoretical construction of a world that we do not live in, and therefore do not know." A religious person did not inhabit a scientific space – his world was defined by God. Hence the sacred geography that the mappae mundi imply was more 'real', at least to Beatus and those like him, than the physical geography that they depict. This works in harmony with French's discussion of the medieval cathedral maze. This she feels, represents "the integration of the literal [physical] and allegorical [implied] worlds" of the medieval mentality. Both the mappa mundi and the maze are based around a concept of sacred centrality. The pilgrim arrives in Jerusalem, the wanderer arrives in the center of the maze (and hence the cathedral); both are "ultimately in union with Christ." This supports our argument that the mentalities which the mappae mundi represent are significant for medieval societies on a wide scale.

So, we have seen that the mappae mundi can tell us a great deal – both about the societies which created them and how those societies interpreted their world. It is not so much the lack of science which makes them instructive, but the addition of everything else.

...concluded in next post...
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~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
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Last edited by Rambuchan; 23-01-2006 at 07:14.
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Old 23-01-2006, 06:54   #13
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Christian Religious Mapping in The Mappae Mundi concluded....

To conclude, therefore, it seems appropriate to widen the angle of the lens with which we have been looking at medieval society. These marvellous maps were part of the changing societies from which they came – they show us societies which are looking at an expanding world, but still with the same eyes which saw the old world. The new scientific methodology which would spawn from the portolan charts had no place in these maps's conception, but one small detail is indicative of things to come. The later mappae mundi were placed outside a monastic context – they were public documents. Hence they were representative of the emergence of an educated laity which was reading such works as Mandeville's Travels and would soon be reading Chaucer. In a strange way, it is in keeping with the maps's conception of simultanaeity that they should both define the world in Christian terms and, by their very act of public definition, encourage lay perspectives of the world which would ultimately lead to the downfall of a theological conception of geography.


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Bibliography

- King James Bible, Oxford edition
- G. Alington The Hereford Mappa Mundi: a medieval view of the world [London 1996]
- W. L. Bevan & H. W. Phillott Mediaeval Geography: An Essay in Illustration of the Hereford Mappa Mundi [Hereford, 1873]
- G. R. Crone Maps and their Makers [London, 3rd Edition 1966]
- D. Doring & D. Fairbairn Mapping: ways of representing the world [Harlow, 1997]
- E. Edson Mapping Time and Space – how medieval mapmakers viewed their world [London, 1997]
- D. R. French "Journeys to the Centre of the Earth" in B. N. Sargent-Baur [ed.]
- Journeys toward God [Michigan, 1992]
- J. B. Friedman The Monstrous Races in Medieval Art and Thought [Cambridge Massachusetts, 1991]
- J. Le Goff Time, Work and Culture in the Middle Ages [Chicago, 1980]
- J. B. Harley & D. Woodward The History of Cartography: Vol. 1 [Chicago, 1987]
- P. D. A. Harvey Mappa Mundi – The Hereford World Map [London, 1996]
- P. D. A. Harvey Medieval Maps [1991, London]
- M. Jancey Mappa Mundi, The Map of the World in the Hereford Cathedral [Hereford, 1987]
- G. H. T. Kimble Geography in the Middle Ages [London 1938]
- R. King "The metalanguage of maps and the roots of cartography" in Trinity Papers in Geography No.1 [Dublin, 1990]
- J. T. Lanman Glimpses of History from Old Maps [Tring, 1989]
- Rev. A. L. Moir & Rev. M. Letts The World Map in Hereford Cathedral [Hereford, 1955]
- D. Woodward Art and Cartography [Chicago, 1987]
- R. King "The metalanguage of maps and the roots of cartography" in Trinity Papers in Geography No.1 Dublin, 1990; p.2
- Harley and Woodward The History of Cartography: Vol 1 p.3 [hereafter Cartography]

NOTES:

These relevant terms are from Woodward, Art and Cartography p.15 and French in Journeys toward God p.51

Ezek 5:5 – "This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of nations"

Adelard – "Jerusalem, from whence comes salvation, is found at the centre of the world." [Journeys toward God p.62]

This heightens the links between the mappae mundi and crusading – Jerusalem is such a pinnacle of symbolism, central to the world, how can it be left in the hands of the infidel?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
__________________
Two great historical Civ 3 scenarios for you:

HEGEMON! Of The Classical Greek World!

"Best Scenario of the Year" 2012 Award

~~~ The Rise & Fall of The Mughals ~~~
East & West (and pirates!) compete for the Jewel in their Crown
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