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The Ptolemy world map is a map of the known world to Western society in the 2nd century A.D. It was based on the description contained in Ptolemy's book Geographia, written circa 150. Although authentic maps have never been found, the Geographia contains thousands of references to various parts of the old world, with coordinates for most, which allowed cartographers to reconstruct Ptolemy's world view when the manuscript was re-discovered around 1300 AD.

Perhaps the most significant contribution of Ptolemy and his maps is the first uses of longitudinal and latitudinal lines and the specifying of terrestrial locations by celestial observations. When his Geographia was translated from Greek into Arabic in the ninth century and subsequently into Latin in Western Europe at the beginning of the fifteenth century, the idea of a global coordinate system revolutionized medieval Islamic and European geographical thinking and put it upon a scientific and numerical basis.


The map distinguishes two large enclosed seas, the first one being the Mediterraneanmarker, the second one being the Indian Oceanmarker (Indicum Pelagus), which extends into the China Sea (Magnus Sinus) in the East. The major geographical locations are Europe, the Middle-East, Indiamarker with an oversized Sri Lankamarker (Taprobane), the Southeast Asian peninsula (Aurea Chersonesus or "Golden Peninsula") and beyond it Chinamarker (Sinae).

The Geographia and the maps derived from it probably played an important role in the expansion of the Roman Empire to the East. Trade throughout the Indian Oceanmarker was extensive from the 2nd century, and many Roman trading ports have been identified in Indiamarker. From these ports, Roman embassies to China are recorded in Chinese historical sources from around 166.

The Danish historian Gudmund Schütte attempted to reconstruct the Danish part of Ptolemy's world map. This derivative includes several place- and tribe-names, some of which can be interpreted to theircontemporary equivalent. The most prominent feature of the map is the peninsula Jutland placed north of the river Albis Trêva, west of the Saxonôn Nesôi (archipelago), east of the Skandiai Nêsoi, which itself lies west of a larger island Skandia.North of Jutland lies a third archipelago Alokiai Nêsoi. South of the Albis lives the Lakkobardoi and to its norththe Saxones. The west coast of Jutland is home to the Sigulônes, the Sabaliggio, the Kobandoi, the Eundusioi and the northernmost Kimbroi (possibly Cimbri). The center and east is home to the Kimbrikê (possibly Cimbri), the Chersonêsos and the Charudes.



Image:PD PtolemysWorldMap.png

External links

  • Cosmographia by Claudius Ptolemaeus in The European Library 2nd image
  • Ptolemy and other early maps [120659]

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