GuideBooks

The travel guides that charted our world

The travel guides that charted our world
Written by Publishing Team

Byzantine scholar Maximus Planodus rediscovered Ptolemy’s work in the thirteenth century, and Ptolemy remained the supreme authority in all matters relating to cartography and geography for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, his original maps were lost, and Planodes recreated them based on the text and written coordinates.

After Ptolemy’s Geography was translated from Greek into Latin in 1406 by hand, more maps were drawn by various cartographers based on Ptolemy’s texts, coordinates, and mathematical calculations. These maps facilitated explorations during the 15th century and led to a renaissance of cartography.

The 1475 Vicenza edition of Ptolemy’s Geography did not include maps (only his original text and coordinates). Instead, Gazzola showed me a later version of the primary work published in Rome on November 4, 1490, the large, heavy volume is peppered with 31 detailed hand-coloured printed maps of yellow and ocher tones of the lands and blue shades of the seas.

Usually the book has an unscripted (the term used to name the oldest printed books, especially those before 1501), the book does not have a front facing. Just like the manuscript, this early edition of Ptolemy’s Geography begins directly with the text without any introduction.

“The facades that give the name of the author, the work and the date of printing really started to be used only after 1500,” Gasola explained. This happened when humanist researcher and publisher Aldus Manutius revolutionized the world of printing. The modern book begins with it. In the era of Venetian domination of the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Manutius established the printing office of the Aldine Press (in Venice), was the first to introduce italics, and published more than 130 books in Greek and Latin.

Precursor of modern-day travel guides

The next travel book that Jazzola showed me had a beautifully printed detailed picture. And a very long title: What is inside Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Egypt, Shundea and Stockholm

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