I.1 Cosmographia World Map

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Claudius Ptolemy

Claudius Ptolemy’s curiosity about the dynamic relationships between the Earth and the sun, the Earth and the moon, and the causes and effects of climate led him to invent the longitude and latitude grid system to construct maps of the world. His mathematical proofs describing Earth as a sphere are still accepted today, despite the fact that he incorrectly placed this sphere as a fixed point in the center of a universe revolving around it daily. This map is taken from an edition of Cosmographia published in Ulm, Germany, soon after his great works, which had been lost during the Middle Ages and rediscovered during the Renaissance. This 1482 Ulm edition is noticeably different from previous Italian editions because it was printed from carved wood blocks rather than copperplate engravings. This map shows Africa as an extended southern land and the Indian Ocean as an enclosed body of water.


Ptolemy, Claudius. 1478. Cosmographia. Rome: Arnoldus Bucknick.

Skelton, R.A. 1963. Bibliographical Note to Reproduction of Claudius Ptolemaus, Cosmographia, Ulm, 1482. Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

Thomson, J.O. 1948. History of Ancient Geography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ptolemy, Claudius. 1482. Cosmographia World Map. Courtesy of the James Bell Ford Library, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. In “1st Iteration (2005): The Power of Maps,” Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, edited by Katy Börner and Deborah MacPherson. http://scimaps.org.

Acknowledgements: This exhibit is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. IIS-0238261, CHE-0524661, IIS-0534909 and IIS-0715303, the James S. McDonnell Foundation; Thomson Reuters; the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center, University Information Technology Services, and the School of Library and Information Science, all three at Indiana University. Some of the data used to generate the science maps is from the Web of Science by Thomson Reuters and Scopus by Elsevier. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.