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An English translation of Pomponius Mela, "De Situ Orbis," made in the 16th century, to which are prefixed eighteen rudely-coloured maps of the world, as known to the ancients f.3

An English translation of Pomponius Mela,

Cartographer: Pomponius Mela

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1540

Shelfmark: Hargrave 399

Item number: f.3

Genre: Map

Dating from the 16th century this is an English translation of, β€œDe Situ Orbis,” the writings of the first century AD Roman geographer Pomponius Mela. The maps that illustrate the work are a fusion of the Portolan chart tradition, and the Ptolemaic world view. In the period 1540 –1550 this sort of atlas would have been commonly used in schools. The British Isles appear on three of the eighteen maps. This prominence combined with the English text suggests that Britain is the country of origin.
This map shows a Ptolemaic world view, however, the medieval tradition is evident as the draughtsman has included the names of the strange races believed by the ancients to inhabit the margins of the earth: Amazones, Hypborei and Cymerii. Despite the survival of such aspects of the medieval world view, the image of Britain shows some advancement in knowledge, notable in an embryonic outline of the Bay of Cardigan. Such advances in knowledge do not appear on printed maps until 1564. This precocious image of Britain can be dated to the earlier period of 1540-1555.

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