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Valk & Schenk: Arabiae Felicis, Petraeae, et Desertae

Map: MEAST4328
Cartographer: Valk & Schenk
Title: Arabiae Felicis, Petraeae, et Desertae
Date: c. 1700
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 17 inches / 44 cm
Map ref: MEAST4328
One of the great maps of the Arabian Peninsula of the 17th century, based on a map first issued by Joan Blaeu.

The geographical shape of the map is based on the map by Hugo van Linschoten, published in his travel book c.1599 but with additions and revisions. Other sources include Blaeu’s own wall map of Asia published in 1608 as well as Dutch portolan charts. This map also follows the orthodox division of the Peninsula, namely, Arabia Petrae, Arabia Felix and Arabia Deserta; these divisions stem back to classical times and refer to the region around the city of Petra, in the northwest of the Peninsula; Deserta corresponds to the desert and is in the north; Felicis or Felix represents a reference to the classical writer Diodorus Siculus who describes an extraordinarily advanced civilization in the Yemen, a thriving fertile land with a vast network of irrigation canals which transformed the formerly arid landscape. The reports of this "Felix" or thriving Arabia were likely to have been augmented by the accounts of the prosperity and might of the extraordinary Arabian Empire which flourished from the 8th to the 13th century. This accounts for it being the largest of the geographical divisions marked on the map. Furthermore, Blaeu’s map of the Peninsula shows much greater interior detail, including the location of the city of Medina with note marking its location as the tomb of Mohammed.

It is believed that Blaeu’s map acted as a model for a map of the Peninsula by his great rival, Johannes Jansson; however there is some confusion about its dating map as Blaeu first issued his map in the Atlas Major in 1662 while Jansson first issued his map in 1658.

This example of the map was first published by Jansson; however, Gerhard Valk and Pieter Schenk obtained the copper plate after the winding up of Jansson’s firm and issued the map again with their imprint on the cartouche on the lower left.

Original hand colour. [MEAST4328]