[ISHMap-List] Cartographic innovations by the early portolan chartmakers

Tony Campbell tonycampbellockendon at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 13:03:54 CET 2016

The following new online publication might be of interest to some on 
this list:

    *Cartographic innovations by the early portolan chartmakers*

*(and subsequent developments)***

*focusing through the centuries on the traditional medieval coverage:

*the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the North Sea and Baltic, and 
north-west Africa***



Since the medieval portolan charts were the earliest systematic and 
dedicated cartographic aids for marine navigation, it is inevitable that 
various hydrographic features will be appearing there for the first 
time.But, beyond that, the inventiveness of successive chartmakers led 
to the introduction of a number of conventions into cartography /as a 
whole/.Indeed, it is not unreasonable to claim that those charts, in the 
form they had achieved by the end of the developmental period (around 
1330), embodied more cartographic inventions than /any other map type/.

A list of the specific innovations found on the earliest survivors is 
followed by an itemising of the contrivances introduced on the work of 
Pietro Vesconte (1311-c.30) and those who came after him.

A number of the introductions, particularly the documenting of offshore 
hazards, were clearly designed as practical aids for mariners.Overall, 
what the charts offered seamen was unparalleled in its complexity and 
practical usefulness compared to anything made for landsmen.

The extended geographical coverage up to 1500 is described, along with 
the charts’ geometric and toponymic developments.A few were still being 
produced in the late 17^th century, which means that this visually 
distinctive genre of marine charts had a life of some 400 years.Such 
longevity, for a largely unchanging format retained for its practical 
utility, may well be unprecedented in cartography.

Comments are invited.

Tony Campbell

tony at tonycampbell.info
tonycampbellockendon at GMAIL.COM
info at maphistory.info

'Map History':http://www.maphistory.info

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