6.16.2008

The Artemidorus Map

















Two years ago we had the first exhibition of the rediscovered Artemidorus Papyrus in Turin. This year it is on display in Berlin (until the 30th June).

Apart from the sheer excitement of such an amazing discovery, my interest lies in the map of Spain drawn within the scroll. In purely cartographic terms, as a fragment, it doesn't really add much to our knowledge of the country.

What it does do is add to our tiny corpus of ancient maps of the west, which begins with either:
a tablet from Yorghan Tepe or the town 'plan' from Catal Hy√ľk;
then a Kassite map of Nippur;
the Turin Papyrus Map of Egypt (ca. 1300 BC);
a symbolic, rather than representative, 6th century BC Babylonian 'map' on a clay tablet (British Museum);
(might take in a 'globe' depicted in a fresco in Pompeii, if you really want to be fully inclusive and push the boundaries of the definition;)
the Marble Plan of Rome, and ... well that's about it in terms of originals.

The Tabula Peutingeriana tends to be included in list of ancient maps; it is a 12th century medieval copy believed to be of a Roman Imperial map revised in the Byzantine period (5th century).

To wage war, maps were necessary as commanders needed to know their terrain, so we can assume that Marius had some rough maps of his main military areas - Spain, Numidia and the Two Gauls. Maps were also useful when governing provinces, so one of his tasks as governor in Spain would have been to ensure that an accurate one was available.





















Spain played an important role in Marius' life - he went there first with Scipio Aemilianus and fought at Numantia, then he returned there are propraetor (the Marian mountians were named after him, and his heirs continued to mine there well into the Imperial period).

This map, from the Artemidorus Papyrus, is by far the oldest known map of Spain, and was copied within a century of Marius' life. The life of Artemidorus probably over-lapped that of Marius.

Claims were made earlier this year that it was a forgery, but carbon-14 dating analysis has proven that the papyrus is indeed 2000 years old.

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