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.

Map of Asia – 1570 AD

Map of Asia – 1570 AD

Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) map of Asia, from his work, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, described as the first modern world atlas. https://archive.org/details/theatrumorbister00orte It shows a detailed Asia including Arabia. Herodotus had considered Arabia as part of Africa; some continued to place Arabia as part of Africa, but this began to disappear as time went by and Arabia was mapped into Asian maps consistently.

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Matthias Quaden’s Aphrica Map- 1600 AD

Matthias Quaden’s Aphrica Map- 1600 AD

This map includes Arabia as part of Africa. The map is quite detailed, if somewhat inaccurate, but gives an idea of the greater knowledge gained about the continent early in the seventeenth century. http://www2.odl.ox.ac.uk/gsdl/cgi-bin/library?e=d-000-00—0mapsxx03–00-0-0-0prompt-10—4——0-1l–1-en-50—20-about—00001-001-1-1isoZz-8859Zz-1-0&a=d&c=mapsxx03&cl=CL2.1.3&d=mapsxx003-aau

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Map of Africa, Indian Ocean, East Indies

Map of Africa, Indian Ocean, East Indies

Interactive map by Johannes van Keulen (1654-1715) exhibited as part of the map collection showed in “Maps of Africa: An Online Exhibit” a digital collection of African Maps at the Stanford University Libraries. The map is worth visiting, it is interactive and shows the lands bordering the Indian Ocean in great details, with names of territories and towns. https://exhibits.stanford.edu/maps-of-africa/catalog/zg066mg2041  

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