Maps : Portolan chart of the Aegean Sea and part of the Eastern Mediterranean


<p style='text-align: justify;'>The library possesses no other original examples of this rare and important type of early maritime chart. These charts are unique manuscripts items of global interest and the digitisation of our sheet would assist in the greater effort to identify all such holdings worldwide.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>The story behind the unearthing of our sheet is of particular note as it was acquired, quite by accident, amongst a miscellaneous collection of some 200 Turkish maps purchased in 1969. A very welcome surprise!</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Portolan derives from Porto meaning harbour and is used to denote the charts which would accompany portolans, or sailing guides. They were first made in the 13th century in Italy, and later in Spain and Portugal, with later 15th and 16th century charts noted for their cartographic accuracy. With the advent of widespread competition among seagoing nations during the Age of Discovery, Portugal and Spain considered such maps to be state secrets.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Old manuscript mapping of this sort preserves a vision of our world that, due to its graphical nature, is innately captivating to the viewer. When compared to modern mapping the chart’s accuracy is still very favourable and for this reason we often display it alongside a modern chart of the same region. Such a display has always proven to be very popular with visitors.</p> <p style='text-align: justify;'>Ian Pittock<br /> Cambridge University Library </p>

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