By: Girolamo Ruscelli
Date: 1574 (published) Venice
Dimensions: 7.25 x 10.25 inches (18.42 x 2.04)
This fascinating Ruscelli map is from his work La Geografia di Claudio Tolomeo Alessandrino. Ruscelli based much of his work on that of Claudius Ptolemy, and on the atlas maps of Giacomo Gastaldi. This map covers parts of Russia and Asia including the territories between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. This map spans a vast stretch of this portion of Asia, from Iran and Pakistan, up through Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to Kazakhstan and beyond.
The map names many of the ancient kingdoms of this vast region, such as the Scythians, Bactrians, and other ancient peoples. The region was crisscrossed by many trade routes which comprised the ancient and famed Silk Route, parts of which have been in use since at least the 2nd century BCE. Ruscelli positioned the famed ‘Stone Tower’ on the Route to the far east of the map, in a forested area close to mountains. The Tower was an important stopping point for travelers, where they could rest, take on supplies, and reach a decision as to how to continue their journey. The precise location is thought to be in the foothills of the Pamirs, rather confirming Ruscelli’s depiction of it.
Many extensive mountain ranges are shown and complex major river systems are depicted. The southeast corner of the map includes part of India and the source of the Ganges River. The Indus River system is also delineated. Italian text on the verso describes the region and the peoples inhabiting it.
Girolamo Ruscelli (1500-1566) was an Italian cartographer, polymath, humanist and editor, active in Venice during the early 16th century. Ruscelli is best known for his important revision of Ptolemy's Geographia, published posthumously in 1574.
Claudius Ptolemy (85-165 CE), a Roman citizen of Greek descent from Alexandria, was the most influential of Greek astronomers and geographers of his time. He propounded the geocentric theory of the solar system which was to prevail for the next 1400 years.
Giacomo Gastaldi (c.1500-1566) was an Italian astronomer, cartographer and engineer from Villafranca in Piedmont. Many of Ruscelli’s maps are essentially enlarged versions of some of Gastaldi’s maps.
Condition: This map is in B condition. Due to uneven inking of the plate at the time the map was engraved, there is a darkened area on the left side of the map and an area in the lower right corner which was not printed in its entirety.
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