Classical Period Maps

Graeco-Roman maps give an idea of the world that was familiar to Mediterranean people. The foray of Alexander the Great’s armies into new territories gave direct information to Europe about the East, India, and the South, into Egypt and the rest of Africa. The writings of Greek and Roman travelers add information that allowed for medieval cartographers to reproduce the early maps with some details. The reproduced maps therefore may be a reflection the interests of modern reproducers, rather than their medieval creators, and should therefore be studied with this in mind.

First Circumnavigation of Africa

First Circumnavigation of Africa

Herodotus’s story, fifth century: “Necos king of the Egyptians first of all those about whom we have knowledge. He when he had ceased digging the channel 43 which goes through from the Nile to the Arabian gulf, sent Phenicians with ships, bidding them sail and come back through the Pillars of Heracles to the Northern Sea and so to Egypt.…

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Al Idris’s World Map – 1154 AD

Al Idris’s World Map – 1154 AD

Click on images to zoom:    Image Source: Wikicommons “In the year 1138, the royal palace at Palermo, Sicily was the scene of a long-awaited meeting between an unusual Christian king and a distinguished Muslim scholar. As his visitor entered the hall, the king rose, took his hand and led him across the carpeted marble to a place of honor…

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Chinese Map of the World – 1418 AD

Chinese Map of the World – 1418 AD

“Purchased from a Shanghai dealer in 2001 by Liu Gang for a mere $500, the map shows the world—including a well-developed picture of North and South America. While text on the map indicates it was drawn in 1763, it claims to be a copy of another map drawn in 1418. the original map was cited as belonging to the great…

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