26 August 2023, 20:25

Urbano Monti's planisphere: a large-scale cartographic work of the 16th century

Urbano Monti's planisphere: a large-scale cartographic work of the 16th century
At the very end of the 16th century, the Italian cartographer Urbano Monti presented a 60-page atlas of the world, which took him several years to complete. The cards are richly decorated: they contain cartouches with comments, portraits of explorers and images of sea monsters. The peculiarity of the atlas is that, when assembled, it is a huge map in the form of a planisphere with the North Pole in the center. Today, three old copies have survived, one of them is in the David Ramsey collection, which has about 150 thousand exhibits.
As conceived by Urbano Monti, the sheets should have been glued onto a round rotating wooden panel. In this way, the viewer can look around the entire map to get a holistic view of the diversity of cultures on earth. In this form, the map was striking in its detail; there were very few such cartographic works in those days. However, Monty never managed to realize this plan.
The planisphere is accompanied by a multi-volume treatise on the world and cosmology. Scientists still continue to compare text with images, and also try to find out, based on the information received, what sources the cartographer used when creating this large-scale work. Quotations from Pliny, Ptolemy, Fernando Columbus (son of Christopher Columbus), Marco Polo and others were found in the text. The copy, which is stored in the collection of David Rumsey, was completely digitized, and 430 years after creation, all the fragments were finally put together. In this form, the size of the card is 275x275 cm.

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