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Gregorius Reisch: [Untitled Ptolemaic World Map]

Map: WLD4361
Cartographer: Gregorius Reisch
Title: [Untitled Ptolemaic World Map]
Date: 1503
Published: Freiburg
Width: 17 inches / 44 cm
Height: 12 inches / 31 cm
Map ref: WLD4361
Gregor Reisch, confessor to the Emperor Maximillian I, was the author of Margarita, a popular handbook covering both moral and natural philosophy. This map is found in the earlier editions (1503-1535).

The map itself is a rather crude woodcut, but it is greatly enlivened by the twelve individually characterised wind-heads of which one, Vulternus, is sporting an early depiction of spectacles.

This is the earliest map to acknowledge the dawning of the Age of Discovery. An easily-overlooked line of text in the lower right corner describes the long spit of land which was traditionally believed to encircle the Indian Ocean thus:
"Here is not land but sea, in which there are such islands not conceived of by Ptolemy."
Reisch makes no further reference to this sentence in the text of the Margarita, so we cannot be certain which discoveries he means, though either the Portuguese rounding of Africa or Columbus' discoveries in the New World would fit such a description.

These new discoveries in the east and the west would force a reckoning with Ptolemaic geography, which for centuries had been the bedrock of geographic knowledge. Reisch's simple line of text is the first cartographic depiction of a struggle that would continue for hundreds of years.

Framed. [WLD4361] [Shirley (R.): The Mapping of the World 22]