[Portolan chart of the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the coasts of Europe and northwest Africa].
Portolan chart with seaport names given for all coastlines.
Title devised by cataloguer.
Contains 4 compass roses in a circle centered in Italy to the north of Rome and half of a fifth on the trimmed center left edge.
Pen-and ink in brown, red, and green, with possible traces of gilding. The chart appears to have been cropped at the left and possibly the right.
LC Nautical charts on vellum, 13.
Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.
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.