Typus orbis terrarum, ad imitationem universalis Gerhardi Mercatoris

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This map is a marvelous effort to capture what the whole world looked like. It is after the much larger and very famous map[1] by Gerard Mercator, and among its many wonderful features are its effort, again, to portray what the New World looks like. It had been known for roughly seventy years, but the explorers of the world were still trying to make sense of it. You’ll see at the very very bottom, a large continuous landmass that seems to go on forever. It’s one of the many terras incognitae[2] that you will find on older maps, and that large landmass was posited by mapmakers, in part, because there was so much landmass on the northern side of the equator and there was at least some theorizing that without a large landmass on the bottom, the globe was in danger of tipping over, so it was speculated that, of course there had to be a large landmass – and there it is, whether it really is- existed or not. Another interesting feature of this map is the medallion showing Jesus in the upper left-hand corner. Some people think that this medallion was placed there strategically because, while there was a hope there would be a Northwest Passage above and around the North American continent, they weren’t quite sure. And so at least one theory here is that Jesus and his medallion were strategically put at that location, so the mapmaker did not have to make a definitive choice.

[1] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercator_1569_world_map Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.
[2] “When Roman mapmakers drew a land area that no one had yet explored, they often labeled it “Terra Incognita”—that is, “Unknown Territory”—and the term continued to be used for centuries afterward.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terra%20incognita Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.



For more details, view the catalog record: https://library.villanova.edu/Find/Record/1691561