By: John Blair
Date: 1779 (Published) London
Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.75 inches (42.2 x 55.25 cm)
This intriguing map by John Blair depicts Sicily as it was in ancient times. The map was included in Blair’s atlas, a fascinating oeuvre which was created for and dedicated to August, Princes Dowager of Wales, in 1779. Blair’s aim was to provide an accurate chronology and history of the world from its creation to the year of Christ 1779, for it was his belief that too much time and attention were being spent on the study and discussion of historical events without a proper chronological framework in which to place them.
One aim of Blair’s atlas was to provide such a framework in order to facilitate better understanding of historical annals. In addition to providing chronology, the atlas provides copious amounts of historical information divided into categories such as ‘Remarkable Events of Sacred History’, and ‘Remarkable Events of Profane History’, all of which are discussed in considerable detail. These divisions are further broken down to enumerate specific people, including kings, statesmen, warriors and men of learning.
The map provides remarkable detail of Sicily itself plus the shores of Africa on which the famed city of Carthage was located, a number of islands, and the tip of the toes of Italy from which it is separated by only the Strait of Messina, whose narrows shrink to a mere two miles at one point.
An inset map in the upper left quadrant features the great city of Syracuse, the ancient capital of Sicily, which in the fifth century BC boasted a population of half a million. Pictured are important features of the ancient city found by the seagoing Phoenicians, including its magnificent city walls and a number of architectural edifices. Many thermal features are included and named on the map including Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, which is depicted erupting. Based on these details one may surmise that the eruption pictured here is that which thwarted the Carthaginians during the Greco-Punic War as they made their way toward Syracuse.
Condition: This lovely hand colored map is a bold impression in superb condition on watermarked paper.
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