I was always fascinated by maps. As a child, one of my favourite games simply involved a pencil and an atlas. I would create an imaginary tiny nation and lead it from battle to battle conquering new chunks of territory in small, well elaborated steps. I would get hours of fun on each page of the atlas in a level that I don’t ever expect to achieve in a video game.
Long story short, I have collected a few beautiful maps lately. And, I believe maps of all sorts are just too interesting of an expression of human creation to keep them for only myself. A map can gain as much value in the eyes of viewer as much as in the craft of its map maker. So, let’s take a look.
The first one is a German map from 1872 depicting the extent of the Eastern Roman Empire under the rule of, arguably the last true Roman emperor, Justinian and Theodora. The smaller map on the top right corner is about the spread of various Christian denominations at the time.
The second one is also a German map, this time from 1859, of the Asian territories of the Ottoman Empire.
Even though the first two maps are quite interesting, the former due to its historical political context and the latter due to its level of detail and beauty, the third is by far my favourite. It’s a Latin map of the Eastern half of the Roman world, ordered by the Duke of Orleans and made in 1764.
Obviously, there is a lot of research for me to do before I can truly appreciate this map. If anyone reading this detects an interesting detail, please feel free to share. I am in no hurry. From what I see, I have years of little and big discoveries to make as I leisurely enjoy my maps.
But don’t worry. This time, I won’t be approaching them with a pencil.