Hemisphere Septentrional pour voir plus distinctement les Terres Arctiques

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This is a view of the top half of the world by Guillaume de L’Isle. The “Hemisphere Septentrional” is depicted as well as the then-state of geographic knowledge permitted; but, as one can see, there is some uncertainty as to what exactly were the northern reaches of the North American continent, left quite non-distinct, as well as what the top of Greenland might have looked like, with some greater distinctiveness at the top of Europe.

It is a great map by a great mapmaker, de L’isle, and was printed by the house of Covens and Mortier. We don’t often think of the world in this fashion – looking down from above. But it is instructive to see what the world really looks like from that vantage point and how close we come to touching one another at the top of the world.



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China veteribus Sinarum Regio nunc incolis Tame dicta

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This is a map of Southeast Asia, including China, including, uh, the Korean Peninsula, and including, uh, Japan with a little bit of the Philippines down below for good measure. This map was done actually by both, uh, the mapmaker Willem Blaeu and also the mapmaker Jan Jansson, and, uh, was prepared by both of them in the 1630s. They were great rivals.

This particular map was a great advancement at the time. Before it was done, a mapmaker by the name of Abraham Ortelius had tried to depict East Asia, uh and it was very, very rough-hewn indeed. One might say the same of this map, but it has to be noted that it is, and was, a significant, significant improvement.

Several features might be pointed out. There is, uh, an island called “Pakan al I. Formosa,” which is modern-day Taiwan. Off to the west, there is a completely mythical lake, “Lake Chiamay,” in the, uh, western-extreme portion of the map, that happens to be where Assam, India now lies. So, you can see that, as with so many maps of this period, there was a lot of guesswork being engaged in by the mapmaker and not all of it was right. Happily, this map has survived in very good condition and, uh, is marked by beautiful delineation of the best knowledge that the mapmakers had, um, at that time.



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Japanese Mainland

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It’s a map in the middle of the 19th Century – published in 1865 – of the Japanese Mailan—Mainland. Now, on any current map of that part of the world, you will see the several islands of the Japanese archipelago arranged as they actually are, and they are certainly not in a straight line. However, for the purposes of this map, they’ve been made to fit in a straight line; so that the directions that might apply to one portion of the map don’t necessarily apply to another part of the map. From a visual standpoint, it’s gorgeous. It folds up and then folds back out. It’s very delicate. Uh, and to look at it and to try to connect one portion of the mapped area and today’s name for the, uh, city or body of water is a wonderful exercise.



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Ierusalem : niewlicks uyt de Schriften Iosephus

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This is a map of the city of Jerusalem, but it is a highly selective map of the city of Jerusalem – most of the features simply do not appear. So it’s mostly a curiosity, but it does show how a v- variety of the features of this famous, old, walled city – one of the most famous, of course, in the world – how they relate to one another and how they were seen in the early 17th century.



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Tabula Asiae IIII

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This map is a, uh, 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, uh, 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, uh, we enter the Arabian Peninsula, and there are some of the tents that were characteristic of, of the day. On over to, on 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.

Uh, 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 – uh, 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, uh, the style and the locations of, uh, many of the points of the area that were devised by a, uh, 2nd Century Greek.



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