Monsters, mistakes and modernity

Mapping the 16th century mind

June 16, 2022

a mash-up of maps and a lobster
Animation of Sebastian Münster’s ‘Wonders of the sea and rare animals.
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Christine Evans-Pughe's avatar

Thanks so much Peter for your fascinating input. Great to hear the term ‘crowdsourcing’ applied to works from the 16th century!!!  I’ll leave Terence respond in full cartographic detail!

Christine Evans-Pughe - 2022 06 21

Many thanks for a most interesting article introducing us to the part-mediaeval, part-modern thought world of the early 16th century.  The maps of Muenster serve admirably to this end.

Muenster’s famous world map is an early instance of crowdsourcing.  I know of an earlier one still—and no surprise, because the further back one goes the more expensive, relatively speaking, is long-distance travel, and hence the greater reliance on other travelers’ verbal accounts.  Pomponius Mela drew maps and wrote descriptions of the then known world in about A.D. 43.  He relied on the Greek geographer Strabo and on travelers’ accounts.  One of his maps covers Europe, Africa and Asia.  He then describes each part of the coastline in turn. As is the case with Muenster, the European part is the most realistic.  He even identified the island of Guernsey, which he called Sena or Sarnia.  I discovered this when studying John Ireland’s piano sonata “Sarnia” which starts by quoting Pomponius Mela’s or Julius Solinus’s description of the nightly music and dancing of the early Guernseyans.

Peter_G_Moll - 2022 06 18

Reading mouse

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