1550 Tabula Asiae I
By: Sebastian Munster
Date: 1550 (Published) Basel
Dimensions: 10.5 x 13.25 inches (26.7 cm x 33.7 cm)
This is a rare first edition in Latin of Munster’s marvelous Ptolemaic map of Anatolia, with many ancient place names and geographical features depicted. Thrace and Constantinople appear in the upper left quadrant. Constantinople and Byzantium had been under the rule of the Turks for only a hundred and seventeen years when this map was made, and Munster chose to people the map with its ancient kingdoms and names. Directly across the Bosphorus from Constantinople we see the ancient kingdom of Chalcedon, which today is part of the city of Istanbul, with few extant remains of the Chalcedonians.
Traveling down the coast we find Bithynia whose capital was in modern day Bursa, its nearby mountain peaks including what was Mount Olympus to the ancients, now known as Uludag. Continuing we see the famed kingdoms and cities of Phrygia, Troy, Pergamus, Smyrna, and Halicarnassus, the birthplace of Homer. Major cities and topographical features are remarkably accurately rendered, including the depiction of Issus at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, where Alexander first fought Darius, and Darius fled with his chariot to the east with Alexander in pursuit. Mountain ranges are depicted with a surprising degree of accuracy.
The fabled Colchis, home of the Golden Fleece of ancient Greek mythology is depicted on the eastern shore of the Black Sea. The entire southern shore of the Black Sea is detailed with cities and rivers in place and named. Most of these cities were originally founded by Greek colonists who braved the unknown over two thousand years ago to settle on the beautiful heavily forested south coast of the Black Sea. Insets in the area of the Black Sea describe in Latin the place names given on the map, as does Latin text on the verso. This map is from the 1550 Latin edition of Munster's Geographia, one of the most important works of the 16th Century.
Sebastien Munster is generally regarded as one of the important map makers of the 16th Century. He was a linguist and mathematician, who initially taught Hebrew in Heidelberg. Munster issued his first mapping of Germany in 1529, after which he issued a call for geographical information about Germany, to scholars throughout the country. The response was better than hoped for, and included substantial foreign material, which supplied him with up to date, if not always completely accurate maps, for the issuance of his Geographia in 1540.
Condition: This hand colored map is in B condition with worm damage at the centerfold which has been repaired with archival material on the verso.
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