Ancient map of Arabia draws Sharjah International Book Fair visitors

Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times
Photo by M.Sajjad/Khaleej Times

Sharjah - The map is from the rare 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, the first atlas printed north of the Alps and the first to contain illustrated woodcut maps.



by

Afkar Ali Ahmed

Published: Tue 10 Nov 2020, 10:32 PM

Last updated: Tue 10 Nov 2020, 11:50 PM

The first woodblock printed map of the Arabian Peninsula, which is on display at the ongoing 39th Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF), is drawing curious crowds.

Oliver Pingel, the owner of French publishing house that exhibited the map, told Khaleej Times that it is the first woodblock printed depiction of the region, in spectacular contemporary hand colour. The map was used by a lot of ancient travellers and explorers, he pointed out.

The map is from the rare 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, the first atlas printed north of the Alps and the first to contain illustrated woodcut maps. It contains the traditional 27 Ptolemaic maps, of which this is one, and there are five additional modern maps in it of Italy, Spain, France, Scandinavia, and the Holy Land. The Arabian Peninsula map is the most-sought-after of all 15th century maps of the region.

The Ulm Ptolemy was innovative as it was intended to be coloured, with instructions from the publisher to embellish the woodcut print. The seas are coloured in rich blue, using expensive and scarce lapis lazuli as the colouring agent.

A border of latitude and longitude lines frame the map, an innovation in cartography traceable to Ptolemy.

afkarali@khaleejtimes.com


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