The Greek scientist Claudius Ptolemy (c. 90 – 168) is one of the most famous cartographers in the world, although none of his maps has been preserved, they were burned during a fire at the Alexandrian Library. All the “Ptolemy’s” maps you could see are later works of the XV-XVII centuries, that were made on the basis of his eight-volume work “Guide to the production of geographical maps”, now known simply as “Geography”.

This does not detract from the significance of the Greek cartographer, whose works are considered the culmination of the cartographic science of the ancient world. In the text of “Geography”, Ptolemy indicated the geographical coordinates of eight thousand strong points, from Scandinavia to the upper river Nile, from the Atlantic Ocean to Indochina. This helped to render the original images fairly accurate.

There are many variants of Ptolemy’s “Geography” manuscripts dating back to the 15th century. Some contain maps, others do not. Manuscripts with maps are different. Some contain 26 large maps placed info the eighth volume of “Geography”. The others contain 64 maps throughout all the text. In addition to these maps, there is a universal world map, made on one or four sheets.

Ptolemy considered the cartographic projections existing at that time and proposed two new ones – conical and pseudoconical (modified stereographic). This helped to better illustrate the ratio of different continents. He also first oriented the north to the top frame of the map.

I didn’t want to insert any images from the web, so I vectorized one of the Ptolemy’s world map images and left only water on it:

Ptolemy's Water

107 thoughts on “Ptolemy’s World Map”

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