By: Girolamo Ruscelli
Date: 1574 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 7.5 x 10.5 inches (19 x 26. cm) plate imprint size
This fascinating Ruscelli map of the eastern hemisphere shows the world as described by Claudius Ptolemy in his original Geographia, dating to the second century CE. The Geographia, one of Ptolemy’s most important works, is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world that was known in Roman times. He was known to have used for reference material the works of Marinos of Tyre, a Hellenized Phoenician mathematician, geographer and cartographer. Ptolemy lived in Alexandria, with direct access to its great library, and thus had at his fingertips the most pertinent knowledge and findings of his own time as well as of more ancient times, including the renowned astronomical works of Babylon from the ancient Persian Empire.
The map is a copperplate engraving done in Italian style with a stippled sea. The Mediterranean is well depicted though exaggerated in length. The Aegean Sea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and the Caspian are all depicted, as is the long stretch of water ultimately connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.
The Nile is shown to originate in the Mountains of the Moon. The Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean are all clearly depicted, but the Indian Ocean is land bound, with a long southern coastline which joins eastern Africa to southeast Asia. The Ganges River is shown but the Indian subcontinent, while hinted at is not depicted.
Condition: This map is in A- condition. A strong, obviously early impression with a bit of excess ink due to scratches on the copperplate. Even toning with slight darkening at centerfold and some light damp staining. Descriptive text in Italian on verso.
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