The Balkans

By PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius [translated by ANGELUS, Jacobus, edited by GERMANUS, Nicolaus], 1482 

Nona Europe Tabula.

Europe Eastern Europe
  • Author: PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius [translated by ANGELUS, Jacobus, edited by GERMANUS, Nicolaus]
  • Publication place: Ulm
  • Publisher: Lienhart Holle
  • Publication date: 16 July 1482.
  • Physical description: Double-page woodcut map, fine original hand-colour.
  • Dimensions: 420 by 565mm. (16.5 by 22.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 2091

Notes

This striking map depicts the Balkans as envisaged by the second century A.D, cartographer Claudius Ptolemaeus, and is one of the earliest obtainable prints maps of the area. The map extends from the Carpathian mountains in the north to the Dardanelles in the south. To the west the island of Corfu is picked out in red, with the tip of Turkey (Asie minoris pars) to the east. The map is dominated by Datia” (The Dacian Empire) covering parts of modern day Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria. The Dacian Empire had become part of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the first century AD.

The map was published in the first atlas printed outside Italy and the first atlas illustrated with woodcut maps.

In 1482 Lienhart Holle in Ulm published a revised edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia with the reworking of the Ptolemaic corpus by the cartographer Nicolaus Germanus Donis. The atlas included five additional modern” maps: Italy, Spain, France, Scandinavia, and the Holy Land. The atlas would be the first book printed by Lienhart Holle, however, it would appear that the venture proved ruinously expensive and his business would go bankrupt shortly after publication. The remaining sheets, the woodblocks and the types passed to Johann Reger in Ulm, who reissued the work in 1486.

As well as the modern maps the atlas bears some other notable first. It was the first time that maps were signed by the artist responsible for the woodcutting; in this case Johannes of Armsheim, who signed the world map, and incorporated a backwards N into the woodcut text on each map. It is also the first to print the accompanying text on the verso of the map to which it refers. Another important feature of the Ulm editions is the introduction of the publisher’s colouring upon the maps. Maps from 1482 usually have a rich blue colour in the sea which was replaced with a soft brown colour in 1486.