Tuesday, November 27, 2007

tabula peutingeriana

800-Year-Old Roman Empire Courier Map Goes on Display. Briefly.
The Tabula Peutingeriana (excerpt pictured), an 800-year-old copy of a chart used by the Roman Empire's courier service, was pulled from the archives of Austria's National Library yesterday as part of a celebration of its new "Memory of the World" status by UNESCO.

It was a rare display as too much exposure to light can swiftly damage the map. The 7-meter-long scroll, which outlines routes stretching as far as Spain, Britain, North Africa and China, is believed to have been copied in Germany in the 12th century.

Related on World Hum:
* Mapping 'Where I've Been': Hope for America's Lost One-Fifth?
* 'This American Life' on Mapping Your World

Tabula Peutingeriana
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Tabula Peutingeriana (section) — top to bottom: Dalmatian coast, Adriatic Sea, southern Italy, Sicily, African Mediterranean coastThe Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table) is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century.[1] It covers Europe, parts of Asia (Persia, India) and North Africa. The map is named after Konrad Peutinger, a German 15-16th century humanist and antiquarian.

The map was discovered in a library in Worms by Conrad Celtes, who was unable to publish his find before his death, and bequeathed the map in 1508 to Peutinger. It is conserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Hofburg, Vienna.[2]

1 Map description
2 Publication
3 Map
4 Notes
5 References
6 External links

[edit] Map description
The Tabula Peutingeriana is the sole surviving copy of the Roman cursus publicus; it was made by a monk in Colmar in the thirteenth 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 land masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows many Roman settlements, the roads connecting them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also given. Three most important cities of the Roman Empire, Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decoration. Besides the totality of the Empire, the map shows the Near East, India and the Ganges, Sri Lanka (Insula Taprobane), even an indication of China. In the west, the absence of the Iberian Peninsula indicates that a twelfth original section has been lost in the surviving copy.

The Peutinger Table does not satisfy modern conceptions of a map: longitude, which can only be calculated with an accurate clock, is highly compressed in comparison with latitude. The table appears to be based on "itineraries", or lists of destinations along Roman roads, as the distances between points along the routes are indicated.[3] Travellers would not have possessed anything so sophisticated as a map, but they needed to know what lay ahead of them on the road, and how far. The Peutinger table represents these roads as a series of roughly parallel lines along which destinations have been marked in order of travel. The shape of the parchment pages accounts for the conventional rectangular layout. However, a rough similarity to the coordinates of Ptolemy's earth-mapping gives some writers a hope that some terrestrial representation was intended by the unknown compilers.

The stages and cities are represented by hundreds of functional place symbols, used with discrimination from the simplest icon of a building with two towers to the elaborate individualized "portraits" of the three great cities. Annalina and Mario Levi, the Tabulas editors, conclude that the semi-schematic semi-pictorial symbols reproduce Roman cartographic conventions of the itineraria picta described by Vegetius,[4] of which this is the sole testimony.

The fourth century tabula[5] was the distant descendant of the one prepared under the direction of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a friend of Augustus. After Agrippa's death the map was engraved on marble and placed in the Porticus Vipsaniae, not far from the Ara Pacis.

[edit] Publication
The map was copied for Ortelius and published shortly after his death in 1598. A partial first edition was printed at Antwerp in 1591 (Fragmenta tabulæ antiquæ) by Johannes Moretus. The full Tabula was printed in December 1598, also at Antwerp, by Jean Moret.

The Peutinger family kept the map until 1714, when it was sold. It bounced between royal and elite familes until it was purchased by Prince Eugene of Savoy for 100 ducats; upon his death in 1737 it was purchased for the Habsburg Imperial Court Library (Hofbibliothek) in Vienna, where it remains.

In 2007, the map was placed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, and in recognition of this, it was displayed to the public on November 26, 2007. Because of its fragile condition, it is not ordinarily on display.[6]


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