TITLE: Olomouc mappamundi

DATE: ca. 1450

AUTHOR:  unknown

DESCRIPTION: Formerly in Olomouc (now the Czech Republic) Studienbibliothek, MS g/9/155. Reproduced from Anton Mayer, Mittelalterliche Weltkarten aus Olmutz (Prague: Geographisches Institut der Duetschen Universitat in Prag, 1932). Glued to the back of a medieval codex (M I 155), this is the oldest map held by the library, originating in all likelihood from the second half of the 15th century. This map combines the medieval mappamundi styles of both “zonal” and “T-O” (#201 and #205, Book II). It depicts the world on the basis of the prevalent conceptions at the beginning of the 15th century. This West-oriented anonymous mappa mundi is thought to have been lost after WW II. The outline of the Mediterranean Sea clearly has not been taken from a portolan [nautical chart]. The Caspian Sea is open to the outer ocean. The Holy Land, at the center of the map, is heavily emphasized. The four rivers flow out over the world from a peripheral Paradise situated in the farthest east.

A special feature of the map are plotted climatic zones and their unusual number. Individual bands are separated by shown in red. It is interesting that the otherwise fairly regular line of climate zones are in the north in the Asian territory suddenly deformed. In addition to the aforementioned deformation is also notable for its curving arc that seemed reflects the roundness of the Earth. The Olomouc mappamundi stands out for its unique orientation to the West. For the vast majority mappaemundi East is typically the chosen orientation.

Size: 21.5 x 16 cm


*Scafi, A., Mapping Paradise, p. 214, Figure 8.10