Magazine article Geographical

Cartographical Accuracy Comes to Africa: Detail of the North African Region from the Carte Catalane, 1375

Magazine article Geographical

Cartographical Accuracy Comes to Africa: Detail of the North African Region from the Carte Catalane, 1375

Article excerpt

The original of this map of the world was known to western Europeans in around 1375. Today, it is held in the Bibliotheque nationale de France in Paris. It has been attributed to either Cresques Abraham or other members of the same Catalan 'school' of Jewish map- and chart-makers, who were based on the island of Mallorca. This hand-drawn and hand-coloured map forms part of a 12-leaved work, the other sections depicting cosmographical and navigational information and diagrams; all are mounted on wooden boards and bound in leather.

This detail comes from a lithographic copy in an atlas of reproductions collected by Vicomte de Santarem, a Portuguese emigrant in Paris, who used it to illustrate his own book. Copies of both the atlas maps and the book were presented to the Society by the author from 1842 onwards.

Differing markedly from earlier views of the world (which were dictated by church dogma) in its attempts to show a relatively accurate geography, this Catalan map can be compared to another form of 'real' map: portolan (navigation) charts. These also depicted a more realistic coastline with place names densely ranged at 90[degrees]to it. …

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