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[Portolan chart of the Mediterranean and connecting seas].

[Portolan chart of the Mediterranean and connecting seas].

description

Summary

Portolan chart with seaport names given for all coastlines. Does not cover Black Sea.
Title devised by cataloguer.
Oriented with north to the right (indicated by fleurs-de-lys).
Contains 11 compass roses in a circle centered on Sicily, 2 additional roses in Iberia, and rhumb lines connecting all roses and some central points without roses.
Manuscript: pen-and-ink (brown) and dark watercolors.
LC Nautical charts on vellum, 12.
Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.
Includes 4 scale bars (unidentified) and a large compass rose at top (in neck of sheet) containing a drawing of the Madonna and Child.

The Mediterranean Sea was the hub of transport, trade and cultural links between three continents: Western Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe. The history of the cultures and people of the Mediterranean region is important for understanding the origin and development of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Phoenician, Hebrew, Carthaginian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Ottoman, Christian and Islamic cultures. The Italian "Repubbliche Marinare" (Maritime Republics) of Venice, Genoa, Amalfi and Pisa developed their own "empires" in the Mediterranean shores. The Islamic states had never been major naval powers, and trade from the east to Europe was soon in the hands of Italian traders, especially the Genoese and the Venetians, who profited immensely from it. The Republic of Pisa and later the Republic of Ragusa used diplomacy to further trade and maintained a libertarian approach in civil matters to further sentiment in its inhabitants. The republic of Venice got to dominate the eastern Mediterranean shores after the Fourth Crusade. In 1347 the Black Death spread from Constantinople across the mediterranean basin. In 1453, the Byzantine Empire was extinguished with the fall of Constantinople.

The word portolan comes from the Italian adjective portolano, meaning "related to ports or harbors", or "a collection of sailing directions". Portolan charts are maps based on compass directions and estimated distances observed by the pilots at sea. They were first made in the 13th century in Italy, and later in Spain and Portugal where they considered to be state secrets. The English and Dutch found the description of Atlantic and Indian coastlines extremely valuable for their raiding, and later trading, ships. The oldest survived portolan is the Carta Pisana, dating from approximately 1296 and the oldest preserved Majorcan Portolan chart is the one made by Angelino Dulcert who produced a portolan in 1339.

Pre - 1600s maps, atlases and manuscripts

Ancient Maps from the Library of Congress. 13th -18th Century Maps.

The geography discoveries and the new printing techniques resulted in maps that can be cheaply produced. Since a globe remains the only accurate way of representing the spherical earth, and any flat representation resulted in distorted projection. In 1569, Mercator published a map of the world specifically intended as an aid to navigation. It used a projection now known by Mercator's name, though it has been used by few others before him, based on a system of latitude and longitude that dated back to Hipparchus. Mercator's projection greatly enlarged territories as they recede from the equator. The distortion of Mercator's projection is a benefit to navigators since Mercator achieves a matching scale for longitude and latitude in every section of the map. A compass course can be plotted at the same angle on any part of Mercator's map. As a result marine charts still use this projection. By the time of his death in 1595, Mercator has either published or prepared large engraved maps, designed for binding into volume form, of France, Germany, Italy, the Balkans, and the British Isles. Mercator's son issues the entire series under the title "Atlas": "Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes." The name becomes the word for a volume of maps.

date_range

Date

01/01/1550
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Source

Library of Congress
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