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Fine Old Color example of Martin Waldseemüller's edition of Ptolemy's map of the Holy Land, the Levant and Mesopotamia, printed in Strasbourg in 1513.
This remarkably beautiful map is one of the most historically important and finely printed early maps of the Holy Land, the Levant and Mesopotamia. It features all or part of the territories of the modern nations of Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. It was created by the great Northern Renaissance cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, but is based on the work of Claudius Ptolemy from the 2nd Century A.D.
The map shows that in the late Classical period, the geographical conception of the Middle East was quite sophisticated. While far from being scientifically accurate, the overall appearance of these lands is amazingly familiar to the modern viewer - a spectacular achievement in an age long before the advent of surveying technology.
While the Sinai Peninsula is not defined, the placement of the Red Sea relative to the Mediterranean is correct, and the slope of the Levant coastline bears a resemblance to reality. While Cyprus is not correctly shaped, it is accurately located. The interior regions assuredly include the Dead Sea and the courses of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The placement of the Persian Gulf with respect to the general view is also well placed.
Ptolemy's map of the region - and Waldseemüller's edition in particular - proved to be highly influential during the generation following its publication. It was widely copied (most notably by Lorenz Fries in 1522) and was perhaps the most important geographical conception of this religiously important region during the Reformation period.
Waldseemüller's map is based on the work of Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90 - 168 A.D.), a Greek Alexandrine geographer and cosmographer. Specifically, the antecedent of the current map appeared in Ptolemy's Geographia (c, 150 A.D.), which was considered to be considered the apogee of the cartography of the Classical world. While none of Ptolemy's original maps survive, manuscript copies were preserved over the centuries, with the first printed edition issued in Bologna in 1477.
Martin Waldseemüller (c.1470-c.1522) was one of the foremost cartographers of the first great period of global exploration, yet details of his sources and his personal history remain enigmatic. Educated at the University of Freiburg im Bresgau, Germany, he became the center of a circle of great humanist scholars based at the Abbey of St. Dié in Alsace. Funded by René II of Lorraine, the school of St. Dié was responsible for a trio of publications which revolutionized the traditional conceptions of global geography.
Waldseemüller was inspired by Amerigo Vespucci's outrageously entertaining best seller, Mundus Novus (1503), which asserted for the first time that the New World was a distinct continental landmass. In 1507, he published a fantastically large World map. This great work definitively shows the Americas as being "the Fourth Part of the World" or a new continent, complete with a western coastline showing it to be definitely separate from Asia. The map, which survives in only a single example, has been called the "Birth Certificate of America".
Waldseemüller followed this up with a magnificent edition of Ptolemy's Geographia, published in 1513 by Johann Schott in Strasbourg. In addition to a full suite of Ptolemaic maps, the work was supplemented with a number of new maps, including the famous 'Admiral's Map', which depicted the Atlantic Ocean and the Americas. All of its maps, including the present map, were printed from beautifully carved woodblocks made of pear wood.
foundational map for any serious collection of Holy Land, Cyprus, Levant or Middle East cartography.
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