Date: 1698 (Published) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 14 x 17.8 inches (35.6 x 45.2 cm)
This fascinating map illustrates the extent to which Mercator (based on Ptolemy) was correct in his depictions of various regions included in his work. This map of Western Asia compares remarkably favorably with modern-day satellite images of the region, and includes ancient names of peoples, places and kingdoms.
The ancient Persian kingdom of Sarmatia is the focal point of the map. At its zenith the kingdom covered vast territories reaching as far north as the Baltic, with areas around the Black Sea extending to the west into modern-day Ukraine and stretching east to the region north of the Caspian. Examples of modern-day places that wholly or partially fall within the borders of the old Sarmatian territory are the south-eastern and central parts of Ukraine, parts of southern Russia and along the Volga, southern Ural, some smaller parts of north-eastern Balkans, and around Moldova.
The Sarmatians are described by ancient historians as sharing many features with the Scythians, from their horsemanship to their artistic prowess with gold. Described as fair-haired and light-skinned by ancient writers, they are known to have traded foodstuffs (grains) with ancient Greece and ultimately to have conquered the Scythians. Sarmatian women were said to be fierce warriors and skilled huntresses who in infancy were subject to removal of the left breast in order to enable them to fight more effectively. The women could not marry till they had killed three enemies in battle and completed specific religious rites. Contents of their tombs confirm much of what was written of them in antiquity.
The map is beautifully engraved and embellished with a lovely cartouche and an interesting scene of nomadic life in the steppes. Two marble columns labeled the ‘Columns of Alexander’ are featured near a region labeled ‘Amazones’. The existence and provenance of the columns is documented in the travel journal of 19th century explorer Edward Daniel Clarke, who wrote of their having been moved from their original position in Asiatic Samartia (as described by Ptolemy) to a property of a Russian military commander in the region, a certain General Orlof. Their whereabouts at the present time is unknown.
Condition: This intriguing map is in A+ condition.
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