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

Luis Robles luis.a.robles.macias at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 22:49:06 CET 2016

Dear Tony

Thanks for sharing this work. I have a couple of questions regarding the
Catalan Atlas, and one comment on the length of the Mediterranean.

For the 1375 atlas by Abraham Cresques you wrote that "the red and gold
bands of Aragon are first noted, running diagonally across its creator’s
home, the island of Majorca ". Does this observation apply to flags as
well? On the same map there are several flags that include the red and gold
bands, namely those located on Majorca, Valencia and Barcelona. Did any
such flags appear in earlier maps or is the Cresques atlas the first
example of that as well?

Regarding this same atlas, you wrote that "As pointed out by David Jacoby
(personal communication {*6 December 2016*}), the additional Asian detail
must have come from Genoese and/or Venetian sources, since Catalan
merchants did not trade in those regions." While it is probably true that
Catalan-speaking merchants did not trade in those regions, can we exclude
other nationalities or ethnicities? I am thinking specifically of Jews,
given the obvious connection to Cresques.

Finally, regarding the geometry of the Mediterranean, you wrote that "the
other general error affecting the Mediterranean was a significant
under-estimation of its length. This seems not to have been generally
corrected until the 17th century * 59*
<http://www.maphistory.info/PortolanChartInnovations.html#endNote59>". I am
not sure to understand the phrase "under-estimation of its length". Many
maps prior to 1700 over-estimated the longitude of the Mediterranean, but
not all; actually accurate longitudes and latitudes are already seen in the
1520's (detailed discussion in my 2014 article
<http://www.e-perimetron.org/vol_9_1/robles.pdf>). However, portolan charts
are unusual precisely because they apply a seemingly accurate ratio between
the east-west and north-south dimensions of the Mediterranean.

Best regards,

2016-12-08 13:03 GMT+01:00 Tony Campbell <tonycampbellockendon at gmail.com>:

> 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***
> http://www.maphistory.info/PortolanChartInnovations.html
> Abstract:
> 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
> Academia:https://independent.academia.edu/CampbellTony
> Twitter:https://twitter.com/portolanchart01
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Luis A. Robles Macías

Publication list in Academia.edu
Blog: http://historiaymapas.wordpress.com/
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