« The sea brings all that is distant together »

(Ioan Exarhul, IX century)



The Black Sea in the European Cartography

The exhibition is organized within the project Black Sea Archeology, History and Culture Portal (ArHiCuP), carried out within the Joint Operational Program Black Sea Basin 2014-2020, co-financed by the European Union through the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI). The project partners are: Nessebar Municipality (Bulgaria), the Museum of National History and Archeology Constanta and the National Museum of History of Moldova (Republic of Moldova).



Strabo’s Geographica reports that in ancient times, the Black Sea was often referred to only as the “Sea” (ό πόντος). For the most part, the Greco-Roman tradition refers to the Black Sea as the “hospitable Sea”, Εΰξεινος Πόντος, Eúxeinos Póntos. This is a euphemism that replaces an earlier name “Inhospitable Sea”, Πόντος Άξεινος, Póntos Áxeinos, first attested at Pindar (c. 475 BC).

Strabo believes that the Black Sea was called “inhospitable” before Greek colonization because it was difficult to navigate, and its shores were inhabited by wild tribes. The name was changed to “hospitable” after the Milesians colonized the southern shore, Pontus, making it part of Greek civilization.

It is also possible that the epithet Áxeinos appeared by popular etymology from a Scythian word: axšaina – “unlight”, “dark”; the name “Black Sea” may thus appear from antiquity.

A 1570 map of Asia, entitled “Asiae Nova Descriptio,” from Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, labels the sea as Mar Maggiore (“Great Sea,” derived from the Latin mare major). On another map, entitled “Thraciae Veteris Typus”, Ortelius refers to the Black Sea as Cimmerium and Caspium mare.

The 18th century English writers often used the name “Euxine Sea” to refer to the Black Sea. Edward Gibbon, for example, calls by this name the sea throughout his work “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”. During the Ottoman Empire, the Black Sea was called either Bahr-e Siyah or Karadeniz, both meaning “Black Sea” in Ottoman Turkish.

It is worthy to note that in the 10th century geography book Hudud al-‘Alam, written in Persian by an unknown author, the Black Sea is called the “Georgian Sea,” the “Georgian Sea” (daryä-yi Gurziyan).

Ancient Georgian sources from the 9th-14th centuries (“Georgian Chronicles”) used the name “Speris Zğua”, which means “The Sea of Speri”, after the Georgian tribe Speris or Saspers, now in Turkey.

The oldest cartographic evidence of the Black Sea coast in antiquity is a map made of leather, covering a shield, and dating from 230-240 AD. It was discovered during archeological excavations that took place in the fortress of Dura Europos on the Euphrates River in Syria. It predates the so-called Tabula Peutingeriana (4th century), an itinerary or guide produced by Roman engineers.

The development of trade and navigation in the Mediterranean basin, carried out mainly by the Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa, Ancona and Amalfi, required the creation of portolans, which described the ports, connections and distances between them and the easiest access routes. The most famous masters of navigation maps were Petrus Vesconte of Genoa, Angelino de Delorto and Guillelmo Soleri of Mallorca, among others. Therefore, the workshops of map makers in Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Amalfi and Mallorca laid the foundations of modern European cartography.

Abraham Ortelius was among the first Europeans to create historical maps, including one of the Black Sea. Projections of the Black Sea coast in the 16th-18th centuries appeared in the works of many European cartographers, cartographers’ guilds or specific workshops. Renowned mapmakers for their achievements include Nicolas and Guillaume Sanson, Guillaume de l’Isle, Johann Baptist Homann, Isaak Tirion and Johann van der Bruggen.

The maps and geographical descriptions presented in the exhibition show that, over the centuries, there have been people with economic and scientific thinking – scientists, sailors, clergy, merchants and the military – who overcome all obstacles and prohibitions of the times, in order to collect, analysis and provision of information and knowledge, in accordance with humanistic principles.



The map of the Pontic route depicted on the Dura-Europos shield – also known as the “stage map” – is a fragment of a map discovered by Belgian archaeologist Franz Cumont during archeological excavations in the city of Dura-Europos on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, in “Archers Tower” (now sunk). The map had been drawn on the leather cover of a shield by a Roman soldier between 230 and 235 AD. The fragment is considered the oldest map of a part of Europe, preserved in its original form.

This map is a fragment of leather or parchment, painted in colors, found among the remains of oval wooden shields. The map had been made by a Roman soldier, probably an infantryman or an archer of the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum stationed here. This soldier traced the stages of his unit’s journey through the Crimea on the leather cover of his shield, somewhere between 230 and 235 AD.

The preserved fragment of the map is 0.45 x 0.18 m. Cumont assumed that the map was initially 0.65 m wide. The image is divided by a white semicircular line in two parts. This line, roughly drawn, represents the west and north coasts of the Black Sea. On the preserved fragment, on the left side of the coast, the sea is represented in blue, being drawn three ships. To the right of the coastline, the land is shown in reddish. Twelve places in the Black Sea region are named on the map, using Latin names, but transcribed in Greek. To the right of each place name, the distances were noted in Roman miles, comparable to those in the Itinerarium Antonini. The places themselves were symbolically described, using the same icon – a gabled building – for all places. It is highly likely that the places mentioned are stages of a march of the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum. Two blue lines under the names ρστρος, ποτ (αμός) and υνουβις ποτ (αμός) suggest rivers that were crossed during the march.



Abu Abdullah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani as-Sabti, or simply al-Idrisi (1100 – 1165), was an Arab geographer, cartographer and Egyptologist who lived for a time in Palermo, Sicily at the court of king Rogerius II. He created the Tabula Rodgeriana, one of the most advanced maps of the medieval world, used by explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama for their discoveries and travels. Muhammad al-Idrisi was born in Ceuta, which then belonged to the Almoravid caliphs, into the Hammudid family of North Africa and Al-Andalus, who claimed descent from the Prophet Muhammad. Because of the conflict and instability in Al-Andalus, al-Idrisi joined contemporaries such as Abu al-Salt in Sicily, where the Normans had overthrown the Arabs. Al-Idrisi incorporated knowledge of Africa, the Indian Ocean and the Far East, gathered by Islamic traders and explorers and recorded on Islamic maps, with information brought by Norman travelers, to create the most accurate map of the world from pre-modern times, which served as a concrete illustration for Kitab nuzhat al-mushtaq (in Latin Opus Geographicum), which can be translated: An experience for the man who wants to travel to distant places. The Rodgerian Tabula was drawn by al-Idrisi in 1154 for the Norman king Rogerius II of Sicily, after a stay of eighteen years at his court, where he worked on the comments and illustrations of the map. The map, with legends written in Arabic, while showing the entire Eurasian continent, shows only the northern part of the African continent and has no details about the Horn of Africa and Southeast Asia. For Rogerius, it was inscribed on a massive solid silver disk with a diameter of two meters.



Tabula Peutingeriana is an illustrated itinerary of the Roman Empire road network – cursus publicus. It is kept at the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The original map on which it is based probably dates from the 4th or 5th century and was itself drawn up on the basis of a map made by Agrippa during the reign of Emperor Augustus.

Tabula Peutingeriana is the only known map of the surviving Roman cursus publicus; was made by a monk at Colmar in the 13th century. It is a parchment scroll, 0.34 m high and 6.75 m long, assembled from eleven sections, a medieval reproduction of the original scroll. It is a very schematic map: the terrain masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows many Roman settlements, the roads that connect them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also given. In total, no less than 555 cities and another 3500 place names are displayed. The three most important cities of the Roman Empire, Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decor.

The map was discovered in a library in Worms by Conrad Celtes, who was unable to publish his discovery before his death and bequeathed the map in 1508 to Konrad Peutinger, a 15th-16th century German humanist and antiquarian, after whom it was named. It is preserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Hofburg, Vienna. The Peutinger family kept the map until 1714, when it was sold. It oscillated with sales between royal and noble families, until it was bought by Prince Eugene of Savoy for 100 ducats; on his death in 1737, it was purchased for the Library of the Habsburg Imperial Court (Hofbibliothek) in Vienna, where it remained.

In 2007, the map was placed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and, in recognition, was displayed to the public for a single day on 26 November 2007. Due to its fragile condition, it is not usually exposed.



Portolan or Portulan maps are navigation maps based on compass directions and estimated distances observed by pilots at sea. They were first made in the 13th century in Italy, and later in Spain and Portugal, with graphics from the 15th and 16th centuries that stood out for their cartographic accuracy.

With the emergence of widespread competition between maritime nations during the Age of Discovery, Portugal and Spain considered such maps to be state secrets. The English and Dutch relative newcomers found the descriptions of the Atlantic and Indian coasts extremely valuable for their raids and subsequently for maritime trade routes. The word portolan comes from the Italian adjective portolano, which means “related to ports or harbors”, or “a collection of shipping directions”.

Portolan maps show all the characteristics of the rhombline diagrams, which come from the wind rose, located at different points on the map. A more explicit name would be “wind rose lines”, the maps being the result of observation, based on the use of the compass and designate connecting lines. These diagrams, in fact rudimentary maps, were based on accounts of Europeans of the Middle Ages who sailed the coasts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

The oldest existing portal is the Carta Pisana, dating from about 1296, and the oldest diagram-portal in Mallorca is made by Angelino Dulcert, who produced a portal in 1339. This led to the appearance of two types of diagrams Portolan: those that are purely nautical and those that are nautical and geographical. Catalan Portolan maps are of this second type, usually made in Mallorca.



The 13th century Ebstorf Map is the largest medieval map known until now. Although the original was lost during The Second World War, it is well known from a number of photographs, lithographs and facsimiles. Between 1951-1953 three reproductions were created, one of which can be seen at the Ebstorf monastery, where it was found in 1830.

The original consists of 30 simple pieces of goatskin, sewn together, measuring a total of 3.5 x 3.5 meters and wrapped. Although the map is part of the genre called Mappa Mundi (idealized representations of the known world), it differs in its size and compactness of information. According to the historian Gudrun Pischke, it contains 2345 records – 1500 texts, 845 images depicting buildings (500), rivers, lakes, seas and other waterways, islands (60), people (45) and animals (60). Numerous religious motives should be added to this. Like all Mappae Mundi maps, the map faces east. The earth itself forms the body of Christ, as its image below testifies. In the center, framed by a gilded line, we find a presentation of the Resurrection, which takes place in the center of Jerusalem. The map is a visual encyclopedia of the world known in 1250. It covers areas such as theology, geography, biology, secular history and the history of Salvation, as well as myths or medieval bestiary. As in other Mapae Mundi maps, there is intense debate about why this map was designed. Were the maps meant to be objects of devotion, decoration, meditation, education? Even now there is no agreement as to who could have made the map, although some believe that the person responsible for the map was Gervasius of Ebstorf, prior at the monastery here between 1222 and 1234. Finally, the scientific analysis of eight types of writing used to draw up the map and correlate it with different scholars identified as active in the Ebstorf archive, allowed a dating of the map to approx. 1300.



Italian geographer Pietro Vesconte was a pioneer in the field of portolan-type maps. His nautical charts are among the first to accurately map the regions of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. He also made more accurate progressive descriptions of the northern European coast. In his map with the representation of the world made in 1321, his long experience as a portulane maker spoke for himself; the map introduced a unprecedented precision in the mappae mundi type. The world map, as well as a map of the Holy Land and the plans of the cities of Accra and Jerusalem were made to be included in Marino Sanuto’s Liber secretorum fidelium cruces.



Opicinus de Canistris (1296 to c. 1350), originally from Pava and who worked at the papal court in Avignon, drew a series of imaginative maps, using to make them, as shown by a text written between 1334 and 1338, nautical maps. Canistris’ maps are fanciful anthropomorphic perspectives on geography, cartography and religion, a style that was to become a popular form of social and political commentary in the 17th and 19th centuries.

On March 31, 1334, Opicinus fell ill. In his book, he details how his body progressively became paralyzed; he temporarily lost the ability to speak and much of his memory. But during this illness, Opicinus had a divine vision: “my inner eyes were opened to discern the images of the earth and the sea.” These “images” were visions of continents and oceans transformed into human figures. As Opicinus recovered from his illness, he regained the use of his right hand and took this healing as a sign from God (he writes that his arm and hand will move only when he uses them to make drawings from his visions). The representation and interpretation of this divine image of the earth will occupy a large part of the rest of its life. In more than eighty drawings preserved in the Vatican Library, he experimented how he could reveal the meaning of his vision during his illness, a vision that God was sure he had sent him. The message conveyed by Opicinus is difficult to decipher, however, despite the author’s encyclopedic culture. Opicinus used all his knowledge to build a cosmic identity. His maps with anthropomorphic representation and made in color, of the Mediterranean area, precise and curiously organized, illustrate characters and animals “good” and “bad”, in which he projects himself but also his enemies. The use of symbols, his taste for concealment and manipulation (words, numbers, space) and his attraction to the obscene and scatological are ubiquitous and strongly relate to similar themes generally found in medieval culture.



Fra Mauro (born around 1400 and died in 1464), Italian cartographer, was a monk of the Monastery of St. Michael, located on the island of Murano, in the Venetian lagoon. He made the most detailed and accurate map of the world to date, a map known by his name, Fra Mauro. In his youth, Mauro had traveled extensively as a merchant and soldier. By 1450 he had composed a large mappae mundi – a map of the world – with surprising precision, including extensive written commentaries reflecting the geographical knowledge of his time. Fra Mauro made the map that bears his name at the request of King Alfonso V of Portugal. Andrea Bianco, a sailor-cartographer, collaborated with Fra Mauro in making the map, as evidenced by the payments made between 1448 and 1459. The map was completed on April 24, 1459, and sent to Portugal, but the copy did not survive. Along with the map was a letter from the Doge of Venice. It was intended for Prince Henry the Navigator, the uncle of Alfonso V. He encouraged the prince to continue financing exploratory travels. Fra Mauro died the following year, while making a copy of the map for the Signoria of Venice. The copy was completed by Andrea Bianco. A commemorative medal made in honor of his cartographic work describes Fra Mauro as a chosmographus incomparabilis.

The map is a circular planisphere drawn on parchment and placed in a wooden frame measuring over four-square meters. Includes Asia, the Indian Ocean, Africa, Europe and the Atlantic. This planisphere is pointed to the south.

Fra Mauro’s world map is a major cartographic work. It took a few years to complete and was expensive. The map contains hundreds of detailed illustrations and over 3.000 descriptive texts. It was the most detailed and accurate representation of the world ever produced. It marks the end of Bible-based geography in Europe and the beginning of the adoption of a more scientific way of making maps, placing precision before religious or traditional beliefs. The map is usually on display in the Museo Correr in Venice, Italy.



Martin Waldseemüller (Latinized Martinus Ilacomylus, Ilacomilus or Hylacomylus; September 11, 1470 – March 16, 1520) was a German cartographer. He and Matthias Ringmann are credited with the first recorded use of the word America, in honor of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci, which appears on the 1507 Universalis Cosmographia map.

On April 25, 1507, as a member of the Gymnasium Vosagense at Saint Dieu, he produced a globular world map and a wall world map, using information from the travels of Columbus and Vespucci (Universalis Cosmographia), both bearing the first use of the name “America”. The globular and wall maps were accompanied by a book Cosmographiae Introductio, an “Introduction to Cosmography”.

The Introduction, written by Matthias Ringmann, explains why the name of America was proposed for the New World at that time, or for the fourth part of the world:

“But now these parts have been explored on a larger scale, and also another fourth part has been discovered by Americus Vesputius (as will be heard below) and I do not see why anyone should forbid a a name that can justifiably be called Amerige, such as “Territory of the Americas,” or America, from its discoverer Americus, a man of perceptive character; whereas both Europe and Asia have received their names from women ”.

In 1513, Waldseemüller seems to have had other thoughts about this name, probably because of contemporary protests about Vespucci’s role in the discovery and naming of America, or just carefully following the official discovery of the entire northwest coast of what is called now North America, separated from East Asia. In his work on restoring Ptolemy’s atlas, the continent is simply labeled Terra Incognita (unknown land). Despite the review, 1.000 copies of the world map have been distributed since then, and the original suggestion has grown. Although North America was still referred to as “Indians” in documents for a long time, it was eventually called “America.”

The wall map was long lost, but a copy of it was found in Germany in 1901. It is the only known surviving copy, and was purchased by the Library of Congress in May 2003. Five copies of the globular map survive as printed maps that were intended for cutting and gluing on a wooden globe. Only one of them is in America today, at the James Ford Bell Library, University of Minnesota, three copies are in Germany (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, LMU Munich, Stadtbibliothek Offenburg) and one copy is in London, UK, in private ownership.


PIRI REIS (1465–1553)

Ahmed Muhiddin Piri (1465–1553), better known as Piri Reis (Turkish: Pırı Reis or Hacı Ahmed Muhiddin Pırı Bey), was an Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer. He is best known today for his maps and graphs collected in Kitab-i Bahriye (The Book of Navigation), a book that contains detailed information about navigation, as well as very accurate diagrams (for their time) depicting major ports and cities in the Mediterranean Sea. He gained fame as a cartographer when a small part of his first map of the world (prepared in 1513) was discovered in 1929 at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. His map with the presentation of the world is the oldest known Turkish atlas showing the New World and one of the oldest maps of America (the oldest known and existing map of America is the map drawn by Juan de la Cosa in 1500). Piri Reis’ map is centered on the Sahara, at the latitude of the Tropic of Cancer.

In 1528, Piri Reis drew a second map of the world, of which a small fragment is preserved (showing Greenland and North America from Labrador and Newfoundland in the north, to Florida, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and parts of Central America in south). According to his text, he had drawn his maps using about 20 foreign diagrams and mapae mundi (in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Indian and Greek), including a map of Christopher Columbus. He was executed in 1553.



Laurent Fries was a French physician and mathematician born around 1485 in Mulhouse. Settled in Strasbourg, he met Peter Apian and the publisher Johannes Grüninger, and following the exchange of information he had with them, he became interested in Ptolemy’s Geography.

This Ptolemaic map, which covers the Balkans from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, comes from a Renaissance atlas with maps engraved on wood, based on the so-called first modern atlas of Martin Waldseemüller. For the first time, a significant number of maps with the latest geographical explorations and observations are added to the traditional maps attributed to Ptolemy. Traditional maps can be found in early manuscripts and, beginning in 1477, in printed versions of Geographia.

This first modern atlas was published in 1513 and 1520 in Strasbourg by Johann Schott and includes 27 maps of wood engraving after Ptolemy and 20 modern maps. Between 1522 and 1541, four additional editions appeared with small maps, engraved by Laurent Fries, printed by Johann Koberger in Strasbourg (1522 and 1525) and by Melchior and Gaspar Trechsel in Lion (1535) and Vienna (1541). Michael Servetus was responsible for the last two editions.

The maps of the last four issues were printed from the same wooden blocks. A special feature of the 1541 edition is the missing text on the back of modern maps. This is due to the action of Calvinism, especially since the text on the back of the map of the Holy Land has caused controversy. Many of the first three editions were burned, which led Servetus not to put the text on the back. However, Servetus was burned at the stake in 1553, condemned by Calvin for his doctrinal heresies, although the text originated in Pirckheimer.

The map is full of names of ancient places and mountain ranges, Latin texts on the back, and the material is embellished with watermark with the stylized representation of some grapes.

Claudius Ptolemy was a mathematician, astronomer and geographer who worked in Alexandria, then part of the Roman Empire, in the second century AD. One of the most learned and influential people of his time, his theories dominated both astronomy and geography for almost 1500 years. His writings were kept alive by Arab scholars in the Middle Ages and reappeared in Europe during the Renaissance. The birth of the printing house led to a wide dissemination of his great works of astronomy and geography. There have been several editions of Geographia since 1477. These early editions contained maps based on his original writings, known as “Ptolemaic maps.” As geographical knowledge grew with the explorations of Columbus, Magellan, Cabot, and others, maps of the New World were added, and maps of the Old World were revised. Ptolemy’s Geography continued to be reviewed and published by some of the most important cartographers, including Martin Waldseemuller, Sebastian Munster, Giacomo Gastaldi, Jodocus Hondius, and Gerard Mercator (the last edition of which was published in 1730).


FERNÃO VAZ DOURADO (1520 – 1580), DIOGO HOMEM (1521 – 1576)

Fernão Vaz Dourado (born 1520 in Goa – Portuguese India – died 1580) was a Portuguese cartographer of the 16th century, belonging to the third period of the old Portuguese nautical cartography, which is characterized by the abandonment of Ptolemaic influence in representation. Orientation and the introduction of a better specification in the description of the lands and continents. Little is known about this historical figure. His works have an extraordinary quality and beauty. Most of the manuscripts of his maps are on a relatively large scale and are included in nautical atlases. Its diagram, referring to the northwest coast of Africa, is executed using the so-called “simple diagram model”, where the observed magnetic latitudes and directions were represented directly in the plane, with a constant scale, as if the Earth were flat. Until the adoption of the Mercator projection mapping method, this was the most advanced mapping method in Europe.

Diogo Homem (1521-1576) was a Portuguese cartographer, the son of Lopo Homem, the official geographer of the King of Portugal and a member of a family of cartographers.

Due to a conviction for murder, in which he was found guilty, he was forced into exile from Portugal, first in England and then in Venice. Here he produced numerous atlases and handwritten diagrams, many of them of the Mediterranean Sea.

Diogo Homem’s work has an exceptional graphic quality and beauty, being preserved in Italy, Austria, the United Kingdom, France, the USA and Portugal.

The map presented here shows the coasts of the Black Sea and Marmara and the Sea of Azov. In the middle of the Black Sea, is mandatory the “wind rose” with the 32 wind directions.



Marco Francesco Ghisolfi, a Genoese master from the middle of the 16th century, a manufacturer of globes, produced a group of atlases of sea maps. All “maps” have narrow edges with Arabic design, strikingly similar and, in some cases, identical. The “Ghisolfi” atlases were never intended for practical use by sailors. These are derived from nautical cartography and can be said to be the end of the line that stretches to the luxurious port atlases made for princes and monarchs of an earlier period. The atlas contains a declination table; a zodiac; nine portolan-style diagrams; it also contains considerable non-maritime detail on land; The Pacific Ocean extending off the coast of North America, the West Indies and the Strait of Magellan; The Atlantic Ocean to the east to the Red Sea; Africa and the Indian Ocean; Europe (with an old British island in which Scotland is separated from England and Wales); Spain and North Africa; western Mediterranean; Italy and the eastern Adriatic coast; Eastern Mediterranean; Black Sea. There are also three “world” boundaries – a planisphere with an oval projection of the Bordone type, surrounded by 12 heads of representations of beautifully decorated winds; a map of the world; a set of spheres with images of several Ptolemaic representations and the four fundamental elements; on the upper and lower edges of the last sphere, there are five images of the 12 signs of the zodiac. Less than ten Ghisolfi atlases are recorded today. The map of the Black Sea presented here was made for Francesco de Medici and Joan of Austria (who married in 1565) because on the back cover are the separated arms of the Medici House and the Imperial House of Austria. The “Ghisolfi” atlases were the last derivatives of the “authentic” portolan diagrams. As beautiful as the maps were, many of them were already outdated in terms of information and representation.



Urbano Monte (1544-1613) was born and raised in Milan. Due to the status and wealth of his family, Monte had a rich life; he never held public office and was able to pursue his scientific interests. At the age of 41, his interests turned definitively to geography, a subject that he studied for the rest of his life. In 1587 he completed a map of the world on sixty sheets of manuscripts, which seems to have been originally accompanied by a geographical treatise. Those sheets were designed so that each map itself could be cut from a sheet and then all the maps could be assembled into rings to form a circular map on a northern polar projection three meters in diameter. Monte continues to provide detailed instructions on how to assemble the sheets of the map, and indeed, on each sheet there are notes indicating the sheet (s) that should be above that sheet and which are below. The cartographer made sure that the map could not be assembled incorrectly. The fact that the map was designed to be rotated means that the viewer could zoom in on the part of the map that interests him for viewing, and all elements of the map, both text and decorations, are oriented so that they can be seen from the outside map inwards. The map is more suitable for vertical display on a wall than for horizontal: if it were displayed horizontally, there would be no good way for the viewer to see the territories north of the equator. If the map were displayed vertically, with the viewer’s eyes more or less at the equator, the whole map would be searchable. Monte’s decision to make his huge rotating map around his center as a way to make the details of the map accessible to the viewer – the numerous images and descriptive texts – is unusual and probably original.

Recently, the David Rumsey Center for Maps at Stanford, where the manuscript is now located, digitally assembled all 60 sheets into a composite map, publicly available at Monte’s masterpiece was unveiled for the first time, centuries later, as intended, on a 3-meter planisphere on the polar azimuthal projection. The world’s largest map of the 16th century is ultimately a visual reality.



A special group of 16th century anthropomorphic maps, which adopt the ancient myth of the Phoenician princess Europa, show Europe with the outlines of a female figure. The version of the archetype (Paris 1537) was created by Johannes Putsch (1516–1542), a Tyrolean poet and courtier. An accompanying poem illustrates the origins of this symbolism in contemporary politics. The map is a tribute to the House of Habsburg, with the expression of a general hope for peace. Many strange details of the map can be explained from historical constellations. Subsequent reduced copies of the map in the works of Heinrich Bünting (1587 ff.) and Sebastian Münster (1588 ff.) Abandoned political circles in favor of a simple didactic purpose. Another copy was designed and engraved in 1587 by Matthias Quad (1557–1613) for the Cologne publisher Johann Bussemacher. He had his own notes in the contemporary wars of the Lower Rhine.

A seemingly hand-drawn version of Pursh’s map had been presented to Charles V in Italy, probably along with the poem Europa lamentans. The only relevant date for this is the end of summer (August 22 – October 21) of 1535, during the stay of Charles V in Sicily. Immediately afterwards, Johannes Putsch left Italy for France, where he arrived in Orléans in November 1535.



Sebastian Münster (January 20, 1488 – May 26, 1552) was a German cartographer. In 1505, he entered the Franciscan order. Four years later, he entered a monastery where he became a student of Konrad Pelikan for five years. Münster completed his studies at the University of Tübingen in 1518. His advisor was Johannes Stöffler. He launched a Mappa Europae (map of Europe) in 1536. In 1540 he published a Latin edition with illustrations of Ptolemy’s Geographia. The 1550 edition contains cities, portraits, and costumes. His cosmography of 1544 was the oldest German description of the world, being one of the most successful and popular works of the 16th century. 24 editions have been printed in 100 years. This success was due to the fascinating woodcuts, in addition to the inclusion of the first separate maps for each of the four continents – America, Africa, Asia and Europe. He was the most important cartographer who contributed to the revival of geography in 16th century Europe. The last German edition was published in 1628, long after his death.

He died of the plague in Basel in 1552. The tombstone described him as “Ezra” and “Strabo” of the Germans.



Abraham Ortelius, Abraham Ortels or Abraham Wortels (born April 14, 1527, Antwerp – died July 4, 1598, Antwerp), Flemish cartographer and merchant of maps, books, and antiquities, published the first modern atlas, Theatrum orbis terrarum (1570; ” World Theater”).

Trained as an engraver, around 1554 Ortelius opened a business selling books and antiques. Around 1560, under the influence of Gerardus Mercator, Ortelius became interested in mapping. In 1564 he published his first map, Typus Orbis Terrarum, an eight-leaf walled world map, which he identified Regio Patalis with Locach as a northern extension of the Terra Australis area, reaching as far as New Guinea. In a decade he compiled maps of the world on a heart-shaped projection (1564), Egypt (1565) and Asia (1567), as well as the first edition of the Theatrum, which contained 70 maps from 87 by the authorities and engraved in a uniform style. Completed and updated in successive editions by the end of 1612, Theatrum seems to have been the most popular atlas of its time. Ortelius was named geographer of King Philip II of Spain (1575). A facsimile of the Theatrum was published in 1964.



The Age of Discoveries that began with Columbus, along with Magellan’s conclusive demonstration that the Earth is round, created a demand for new maps and confronted cartographers with the problem of describing the spherical Earth on a flat surface. Of the various solutions or “projections”, the best was that of Gerardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), which is still in use today. Mercator was also the first to use the term “atlas” for a collection of maps.

Gerhard Kremer was born in Rupelmonde in Flanders. His father was a shoemaker, but his family name meant “merchant,” and Gerhard turned him into Latin as Mercator after his parents died as a teenager. An uncle who was a priest made sure that he would get a good education and, after graduating from the University of Louvain in 1532, he studied mathematics, geography and astronomy under the guidance of Gemma Frisius, the most famous professor of the Netherlands in these domains. He learned the craft of engraving from a local expert named Gaspar Van der Heyden, and the three men worked together to make maps, globes, and astronomical instruments for wealthy nobles, including Emperor Charles V.

In 1538 Mercator made a map of the world on a projection in the shape of a pair of hearts. His inability to accept the biblical account of the creation of the universe caused him problems with the Inquisition in 1544 and he spent several months in prison on suspicion of heresy before being released. John Dee, an English mathematician, astrologer and philosopher, spent time in Leuven in 1548, and he and Mercator became close friends.

In 1552, Mercator moved to Duisburg, in the Duchy of Cleves in Germany. There he set up a cartographic workshop with his engraving staff and perfected the Mercator projection, which he used on the world map he created in 1569. He used straight lines spaced in a way that provided an accurate ratio of latitude and longitude at any point, which proved to be an advantage for sailors, although he himself never spent a day at sea. In the 1580s he began to publish his atlas, named after the giant who held the world on his shoulders in Greek mythology. Strokes in the early 1590s partially paralyzed Mercator and left him almost blind. He died in 1594 at the age of 82 and was buried in the Salvatorkirche in Duisburg.



Nicolas Sanson d’Abbeville (1600-1667), Nicolas Sanson – son (1625-1648), William Sanson (1633-1703), Adrien Sanson (1639-1718) and Pierre Moullart Sanson (16 ?? – 1730)

Among the French cartographers of the second third of the 16th century is Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667), the founder of a long dynasty of cartographers. His tradition was continued by his sons Guillaume and Adrien in collaboration with the publisher Alexis Hubert Jaillot, and later by his young son Pierre Moullart. With the efforts of the Sanson family and the support of the Royal Academy of Sciences and funding of Louis XIV, the center of cartography was moved from the Netherlands to France in the last third of the 17th century. In his youth, it seems that Nicolas Sanson began to use mapping as a way to illustrate his historical work. He prepared a series of well-drawn maps that impressed Melchior Tavernier, his first editor, and Cardinal Richelieu, who called him “the king’s ordinary geographer.” Sanson taught geography to both Louis XIII and Louis XIV. A prolific author, he published many books during his lifetime in collaboration with Pierre Mariette, an editor who published his most famous works, including “General Maps of All Parts of the World” (1658) – the first world atlas published in France and republished several times, with an increasing number of maps. In addition to modern maps, Nicolas Sanson has created historical maps, with all available geographical information, since antiquity. Indeed, his maps have been continuously updated, with attention to detail and the elimination of the decorative style that characterizes the cartographic production of his time. However, Sanson’s work is also appreciated for the quality of the engraving and the elegance and refinement of his baroque decorative cartridges. Nicolas Sanson is often referred to as “the father of French cartography”.



The tradition of the Sanson dynasty was continued by many brilliant French cartographers. Here are presented the works of two of them – Pierre Du Val and Guillaume Delisle.

Pierre Du Val (1619-1683)

Book publisher and distributor. Son of a merchant, consul, and counselor in Abbeville; nephew of Nicolas Sanson. He became the king’s (ordinary) geographer in 1650. In the year of his marriage (1654) he became his own publisher. Specialist in atlases, board games or card games for teaching geography; similarly, its small format atlases are addressed to a student clientele. It does not have a real shop, but occupies several rooms on the 1st and 3rd floors of a house on the Quai de l’ Horloge from 1664. Marie Desmaretz, the widow of Pierre Du Val, continued the business until at least 1684, at the same address and sometimes under the name of her late husband.

Guillaume Delisle (1675 – 1726)

A French geographer and cartographer, a student of Cassini. He is the son of Claude Delisle, himself a cartographer. Delisle published his first maps in 1700, which helped establish his reputation. He introduced the use of astronomical data in cartography. On the disputed points, he quotes his source on the map. He taught geography to the young Louis XV and in 1718 received the title of royal geographer. He produced, at the request of Peter the Great, a map of the Caspian Sea, a region barely known at the time. Many of the place names he gave are still used. He is the author, among others, of a map of the “West Sea”, where the toponym Hudson Bay appears for the first time. A plagiarism lawsuit that lasted six years opposes Delisle against Jean-Baptiste Nolin. Delisle remained famous for his astronomy-based corrections, the completeness of his topography, and the care he gave to spelling.


MAP OF UKRAINE: Beauplan/Hondius (1648) & Homann (1720)

The name Ukraine was popularized in the west by Description d’Ukraine written by Guillaume La Vasseur de Beauplan, first published in Rouen in 1651 (in an edition of 100 copies), with subsequent editions published in French (1661, 1662, 1663) Latin (1662), Dutch (1664), Spanish (1665 and 1672) and English (1680). The paper described Ukraine as consisting of several provinces of the Kingdom of Poland, located between the borders of Moscow and the borders of Transylvania.

Beauplan, a military engineer, had spent significant time building fortresses in the region in the 1630s. In 1650, his map, Delineatio Specialis et Accurata Ukrainae, showed the palatines of Kiev, Bratslav, Podolia, Volhynia, and part of Russia (Pokutia). Another map from Beauplan’s maps, published in 1648, entitled Delineatio Generalis Camporum Desortum vulgo Ukraina, Cum adjacentibus Provinciis, shows all the provinces of Poland, thus recognizing references in Russian and Polish to Ukraine as a “steppe border” and leading to popularization of the name in Western Europe.

The region was later defined by the Treaty of Zboriv in 1649. This treaty established Cossack control over the regions, thus nullifying Poland’s claims, and created the region that would become known in the West as Ukraine.

Johann Baptist Homann (1664 – 1724) – Homann became famous as the leading German cartographer, and in 1715 he was appointed imperial geographer by Emperor Charles VI. In 1716, Homann published his masterpiece Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt (The Great Atlas of the World).


HERMAN MOLL (1654 - 1732)

Herman Moll was an engraver, publisher and cartographer who lived in London. He was one of the most distinguished English cartographers of the late 17th century – early 18th century. Curiously, he provided fantasy maps for the books “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe and “Gulliver’s Travels” by Jonathan Swift.

The map presented in the exhibition was executed by order of Peter I, the Russian emperor and dedicated to him. It first appeared in the atlas published in 1714. The map includes a cartridge dedicated to Peter the Great, including a portrait of the tsar at the bottom of the cartridge, as well as a series of interesting annotations. Moll drew the map inspired by a map prepared by Cornelis Cruis, John Thesing and Captain Pamburg, at the behest of the Tsar, with improvements and corrections from Captain John Perry.

Cornelis Cruis (Cruys) (1655-1727) was a vice-admiral of the Russian Imperial Navy. Cruys’ introduction to the Russian Navy was a direct result of Tsar Peter the Great’s involvement in the 1697 Grand Embassy, which included a visit to Amsterdam to study shipbuilding and related crafts. The Tsar gained access to the Dutch East India Company’s shipyard, from where he recruited Cornelis Cruys to join the Russian Imperial Navy as Vice Admiral, the latter becoming the chief architect of the Westernization of the Russian Imperial Navy.


JOHN CHARDIN (1643 - 1713)

Jean Chardin (November 16, 1643 – January 5, 1713), born Jean-Baptiste Chardin and known as Sir John Chardin, was a French jeweler and traveler, whose ten-volume book “Sir John Chardin’s Travels” is considered one of the best Western works on Persia and the Middle East in general. He was born in Paris, the son of a wealthy merchant, a jeweler in Place Dauphine, and inherited his father’s business. In 1664, he traveled through Constantinople and the Black Sea, arriving in Persia in early 1666. In the same year, Shah Abbas II made Chardin his agent for the purchase of jewelry. In mid-1667, he visited India and returned to Persia in 1669. The following year he arrived in Paris. He published an account of events he witnessed in Persia, entitled “Le Couronnement de Soleiman Troisième”, Paris, 1671. A learned scholar, Mirza Sefi, a prisoner in his own palace in Isfahan, entertained him, trained him in Persian and assisted him in this work. Chardin resumed his voyages to the east in August 1671. He was in Constantinople from March to July 1672. A quarrel between the Grand Vizier and the French ambassador made the position of the French subjects dangerous, and Chardin escaped in a small ship crossing the Black Sea, and made an extremely adventurous journey through Caffa, through Georgia and Armenia to Isfahan, where he arrived in 1673. He remained in Isfahan for four years, making special voyages throughout the country, from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf. Through these travels he made a fortune and, deciding to return home, arrived in Europe in 1677. In 1681, Chardin decided to settle in England, due to the persecution of Protestants in France. He was well received at the court and was soon appointed court jeweler. He was knighted by Charles II at Whitehall, November 17, 1681. In 1682, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1684, the king sent him as ambassador to the Netherlands, where he stayed for several years. On his return to London, he devoted most of his time to Oriental studies.

Sir John died in Chiswick, London, in 1713. There is a Chardin funerary monument in Westminster Abbey with the inscription Sir John Chardin – nomen sibi fecit eundo (“he made a name for himself by traveling”). Modern scholars consider the 1711 edition of his book Voyages (edited by the Orientalist Louis-Mathieu Langlès) to be the standard version.

Early readers praised Chardin’s work for its fullness and fidelity, and he received praise from several Enlightenment thinkers, including Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Gibbon. Scientists in Persia also guarantee its importance. Chardin traveled far, mastered the Persian language, and left detailed accounts of the places and people he met. He also had direct access to the Safavid court, and his descriptions of contemporary politics and administration are much appreciated. He is generally considered a reliable witness, and his work has been used as a source for various studies on Safavid history, government, economics, anthropology, religion, art, and culture.



Giovanni Antonio Rizzi-Zannoni was an Italian cartographer and geographer. He was born on September 9, 1736 in Padua. Between 1749 and 1751 he studied under John Poleni, professor of astronomy at the University of Padua. After traveling to Italy and abroad, visiting mainly Turkey and Russia, Rizzi-Zannoni began his career as a cartographer in 1753 in Poland, where he was summoned by King Augustus III. In 1756 he moved to Sweden and Denmark where he was employed to measure Danish possessions in Oldembourg and Delmenhorst counties. In 1757, Rizzi-Zannoni enlisted in the Prussian army and fought during the Seven Years’ War. During the Battle of Rossbach, he was taken prisoner by the French and sent to Paris. He remained in Paris for twenty years, where he met Ferdinando Galiani, the secretary of the Neapolitan embassy. He later drew a map of the Kingdom of Naples. Highly regarded, he was in charge of the hydrographic engineer’s office in Paris between 1772 and 1774.

Back in Padua, in 1776, Rizzi-Zannoni conceived the design of a general map of Italy on astronomical-geodetic bases. This could not be completed because he was called to Naples to correct the 1769 map of the Kingdom of Naples.

In Naples, where he arrived in 1781, Rizzi-Zannoni convinced Foreign Minister Giuseppe Beccatelli Bologna, the Marquis of Sambuca, and the Secretary of War, Trade, and Navy, British Admiral John Acton, of the need to create a new map rather than updating the old one. They decided to draw two different maps: one terrestrial and one marine. It took him thirty years to design everything, but the famous Geographical Atlas of the Kingdom of Naples was completed in 1812, two years before Rizzi-Zannoni’s death.

Paolo Santini (1729-1793) was a Venetian engraver best known for his religious prints and very good cartographic engravings. He published in Venice and seems to have been a member of the clergy. In his maps, he largely adopted and adapted the work of his French counterparts, especially the de Vaugondy brothers.



The anarchy that encompassed the Ottoman Empire after the Treaty of Küçük Kaynarca (1774) prevented the restoration of the Black Sea coast for many years. A mission sent in 1784 by King Louis XVI of France to support the High Gate against the Russian invasion of the Black Sea, led by Captain Engineer and the future French Marshal André-Joseph Lafitte-Clavé and the soldier Thomas Laurent Madeleine Duverne de Presle, sailed for several months on the west coast of the Black Sea. Due to this fact, in the same year, Lafitte-Clave published “Journal d’un voyage sur les côtes de la Mer noire du 28 avril au 18 septembre 1784”. Lafitte-Clavé was the first to describe the bay near Burgas and Poros as the Gulf of Burgas, noting that it was previously known as the Gulf of Poros and the first to name the lake west of Burgas – Burgassee. In 1809 a report was published on the expedition of Clavé – Reconnoissance nautique et militaries du Golfe de Bourgas in Annales des voyages, de la geography et de l’histoire edited by Malte-Brun, accompanied by a map of the Gulf of Burgas by the French cartographer Pierre Lapie.

Pierre Lapie, born August 11, 1777, in Mézières (Ardennes) and died December 30, 1850, in Paris, is a French colonel, cartographer and engraver.

An officer in the French army, in 1799 he joined the corps of geographical engineers and carried out several campaigns for the Consulate and the First Empire. Captain in 1800, he was responsible for major topographic works. Appointed director of the topographic cabinet of King Louis XVIII in 1814, he was promoted to squadron leader in 1819.

Director of the surveying team and then in charge of producing the map of France, he was appointed lieutenant-colonel in 1829. Appointed head of the topographic section of the War Depot in 1830, he was promoted to the rank of colonel of staff in 1832 and retired in September. 1833.

Colonel Lapie is a Knight of Saint-Louis and an officer of the Legion of Honor.

Author of globes, atlases, and land maps, he contributes to numerous works. He is the father of Alexandre Emile Lapie, also a cartographer, with whom he collaborated.

In 1830, Jacques-Victor-Edouard Taitbout de Marigny (1793–1852), Dutch consul in Odessa, published Pilote de la Mer Noire et de la Mer d’Azov, with a new, more detailed map of the Gulf of Burgas, based on his own to research.


THE CRIME WAR (1853-1856)

The Crimean War was a military conflict in which Russia lost to an alliance of France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom and Sardinia. The war was marked by “notorious international butchery.” In July 1853, Russian troops occupied the Danube Principalities, then came under Ottoman suzerainty. In October 1853, with promises of support from France and Britain, the Ottomans declared war on Russia and halted Russian advance. The British and French fleets entered the Black Sea on January 3, 1854, then moved to Varna in June 1854, when the Russians abandoned Silistra. Apart from a minor battle in Constanța, the Allies had little to do. Frustrated by the wasted effort and demands for public action, the Allied commanders decided to attack Russia’s main naval base in the Black Sea: Sevastopol. Sevastopol fell after eleven months. Russia has called for peace. The Treaty of Paris, signed on March 30, 1856, ended the war. He banned Russia from bringing more warships to the Black Sea. The Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldova became largely independent. The war was one of the first conflicts in which the army used modern technologies, such as railways and the telegraph. The war was one of the first to be widely documented in written reports and photographs. The reaction in the UK led to a demand for professionalism, which contributed to the famous achievement of Florence Nightingale, who gained worldwide attention for pioneering healthcare and the modern way of treating the wounded. The Crimean War weakened the Russian Imperial Army, drained the empire’s finances, and undermined Russia’s influence in Europe. The humiliation forced Russia’s educated elites to identify the Empire’s problems and recognize the need for fundamental reforms. They saw the rapid modernization of the country as the only way to regain European power. The war has thus become a catalyst for reforms in Russia’s social institutions, including the abolition of serfdom and revisions in the justice system, local self-government, education and military service.



On January 1, 1854, a ship commanded by Jean Blaise Marius Michel, which will go down in history as Michel Pasha, a lieutenant in the French Royal Navy, ran aground off the coast of Alexandria. The young officer writes a project for the immediate creation of 40 lighthouses in the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. Emperor Napoleon III personally advanced the funds needed to begin the work. After 18 months, at the end of 1856, 20 lighthouses were lit: 9 in the Dardanelles, 2 in the Marmara Sea, 5 in the Bosphorus, 4 in the Black Sea. Captain Michel led the Lighthouse Directorate for 5 years as an official of the Ottoman Empire. From the end of 1858, due to problems with the administration, he decided to take over the management of the lighthouses at his own expense. On September 19, 1860, a company was established under the name Collas & Michel, whose purpose was to build and operate lighthouses in the Ottoman Empire. On September 4, 1860, the company undertook to increase the number of headlights from 22 to 96 in three years. In 1879 the contract was extended to 20 years, and in 1899 it was extended for another 25 years. On December 31, 1863, Captain Michel was knighted in the Order of the Legion of Honor, and on July 12, 1880, he was promoted to officer. In turn, Pope Leo XIII gave him the title of Roman count, under the name of Michel Pierdon, on December 12, 1882. Thus were born the lighthouses of the Black Sea, Marmara Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Red Sea – at the initiative of a sailor Frenchman, to whom thousands of people on board various ships are indebted for their lives.



Today, the creation of maps relies on computer software to develop and provide a variety of services, a trend that has already begun at the end of the previous century. For example, auto-location, browser search of places, business, products, and area and distance calculation. Today, computer software is dominated by large companies that offer their services to an audience around the world, such as Google maps, Bing maps, national geographic maps, ESRI Geographic Information System (GIS), CartoDB, Mapbox, etc. There are both state and regional initiatives, but also smaller initiatives, such as companies that offer their services. The list of online map services is quite long and growing every day.

Modern GIS technologies use digital information, for which different methods of creating digitized data are used. The most common method of creating data is digitization, so a paper map or other medium is transferred to a digital environment using a CAD program and georeferencing capabilities. With the wide availability of ortho-rectified images (from satellites, airplanes, balloons, and UAVs), head-up digitization is becoming the main way in which geographical data is extracted.

The first images from space were taken after suborbital flights. The V-2 flight launched by the USA on October 24, 1946, took a picture every 1.5 seconds. With a maximum of 65 miles (105 km), these photos were five times larger than the previous record, 22.7 km (13.7 miles) taken by the 1935 Explorer II balloon mission. The first photos were taken by satellite (orbital) of the Earth, on August 14, 1959, by US Explorer 6. The first satellite photos of the Moon may have been taken on October 6, 1959, by the Soviet satellite Moon 3, with the mission to photograph the far side of the Moon. “Blue Marble” is an image of the Earth taken from space in 1972 and has become extremely popular in the media and among the public. Also in 1972, the United States began the Landsat program, the largest program for making images of Earth from space. “Landsat Data Continuity Mission”, the most recent Landsat satellite, was launched on February 11, 2013. In 1977, the first real-time satellite image was taken by the United Stats’s KH-11 satellite system.