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Hereford Mappa Mundi

File:Hereford Mappa Mundi 1300.jpg

RT has decided that now is the time to catch up on work that has fallen by the way. This post is occasioned by a request from fellow-blogger Calmgrove. And RT has to agree: this is a remarkable map.

The Hereford Mappa Mundi (Hereford World Map) is the largest medieval map extant; it measures 62″ x 52.” Drawn on vellum with ink, it depicts 420 towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 animals and plants, 32 people, and five scenes from classical mythology, but does not reflect the full cartographic knowledge of its time; the Caspian Sea, for instance, connects to the encircling ocean (upper left). This in spite of William of Rubruk‘s having reported it to be landlocked in 1255.

The map is still exhibited in the building where it was initially displayed: Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England.

The HMM follows the T and O Pattern, that is, its representation of the world contains a T shape within a circle, reflecting the work of Beatus of Liebana, an 8th-century Spanish monk. Jerusalem is located at the center of the map, but note that the HMM also depicts the Indus and Ganges rivers. Noah’s ark and the Land of Gog and Magog are indicated, but the map may also include Sri Lanka. As seems to be the case with ancient maps of the West, the Mediterranean Sea is the most accurately drawn part of the map.

RT will close by noting the date of the HMM: 1285; this map was created at the end of the Middle Ages, and RT cannot help but wonder at the explosion of geographic knowledge that was soon to transform world maps. His research leads RT to believe that this knowledge began filtering into Europe sooner than often supposed; he has found one or two 14th-century maps that are remarkable for their accuracy. But more on that later…   RT


RT’s Related Posts: 1) Metaphysical Maps; 2) Tabula Peutingeriana.


Map: Hereford Mappa Mundi (c. 1285 A.D.); WikiCmns; Public Domain.


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  1. September 22, 2013 at 4:31 am

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