Tabula Asiae IIII

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This map is a map by Münster from the first half of the 16th century. It reflects basically the Middle East – that part of the world which is so turbulent and so fraught with conflict today. In the upper left-hand corner, one sees Cyprus and the eastern part of the Mediterranean. And then moving ashore, you can see where Palestine is, Samaria, Galilee, on up through what we think of today as Israel and the Holy Land, continuing on over to Syria. Moving further to the right we enter the Arabian Peninsula, and there are some of the tents that were characteristic of the day. On over to the right-hand most side, are the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and Mesopotamia, referred to here as “Babylonia,” which, of course, was roughly where the famous mythical city of Babylon was located.

This woodcut was in a style that follows what is known as the Ptolemaic way of portraying maps. Claudius Ptolemy was a geographer in the Second Century of the Common Era operating out of Alexandria in Egypt. And, in his day, not much was known about the whole world, but he made it his business to know a great deal about the then-known world and included what were then very rough longitude and latitude markings. In any event, maps made from his geographic pinpoints – his longitudes and latitudes – were the best maps of the then-period of time and, for a thousand years more, continue to be the best maps – or at least the model of maps. So what we have here is a map that was made in the 16th Century, but follows the style and the locations of many of the points of the area that were devised by a 2nd Century Greek.



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