World’s Largest 16th-Century Map Digitally Re-Assembled at Stanford University
In 1587, the Milanese cartographer Urbano Monte drew a map of the world so detailed that it did not fit on a single sheet of paper. He needed 60 pages to complete the work. Monte published the project as an atlas, but left clear instructions on how the pages should be linked to form a huge map-múndi. Now, more than 400 years later, experts from the David Rumsey Map Center, of Stanford University, California, have finally assembled the "puzzle" of Monte.
David Rumsey, director of the university's historical map collection acquired the atlas of a private collector in September 2017. The publication has only one other handwritten copy in the world and has never been assembled in map form. His nephew Brandon was in charge of scanning most of the pages and fitting them virtually. Together, the pages form a 10 foot square map, this map or planisphere is the largest known early map 16th-centuryof the world.
"Monte made his map to serve not only as a geographical tool but also to show climate, customs, length of day, distances within regions - in other words, to create a universal scientific planisphere," said David Rumsey "In his dedication on Tavola XL he specifies how to arrange the sheets of the planisphere and makes it explicit that the whole map was to be stuck on a wooden panel 5 and a half brachia square (about ten feet) so that it could be revolved around a central pivot or pin through the north pole. This was never done, but now we can do it virtually - Monte's 60 sheet world map digitally assembled into a 10 foot planisphere"
Unlike the Mercator projection, often used in world maps to preserve the shape of the continents, Mount's projection departs from the North Pole and, although it distorts the regions closest to the South Pole, fairly conserves the relation of the land masses to the oceans.
The scanned pages form a map of more than three square meters and are available online, as well as the composite planisphere, both free of copyright.
See the map on slides and mounted in the shape of the globe, here.