Geography (Ptolemy)

The Geography (Greek: Γεωγραφικὴ Ὑφήγησις, Geōgraphikḕ Hyphḗgēsis, lit. "Geographical Guidance"), also known by its Latin names as the Geographia and the Cosmographia, is a gazetteer, an atlas, and a treatise on cartography, compiling the geographical knowledge of the 2nd-century Roman Empire. Originally written by Claudius Ptolemy in Greek at Alexandria around AD 150, the work was a revision of a now-lost atlas by Marinus of Tyre using additional Roman and Persian gazetteers and new principles.[1] Its translation into Arabic in the 9th century and Latin in 1406 was highly influential on the geographical knowledge and cartographic traditions of the medieval Caliphate and Renaissance Europe.

La Cosmographie de Claude Ptolemée.djvu&page=9
The Geography of Ptolemy in a c. 1411 Latin translation by Jacobus Angelus with 27 maps by Claus Swart.


Ptolemy-World Vat Urb 82
The world map from Codex Vaticanus Urbinas Graecus 82, done according to Ptolemy's 1st projection
Seragliensis 57
The world map from Codex Seragliensis 57, done according to Ptolemy's 2nd projection

Versions of Ptolemy's work in antiquity were probably proper atlases with attached maps, although some scholars believe that the references to maps in the text were later additions.

No Greek manuscript of the Geography survives from earlier than the 13th century.[2] A letter written by the Byzantine monk Maximus Planudes records that he searched for one for Chora Monastery in the summer of 1295;[3] one of the earliest surviving texts may have been one of those he then assembled.[4] In Europe, maps were sometimes redrawn using the coordinates provided by the text,[5] as Planudes was forced to do.[3] Later scribes and publishers could then copy these new maps, as Athanasius did for the emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus.[3] The three earliest surviving texts with maps are those from Constantinople (Istanbul) based on Planudes's work.[a]

The first Latin translation of these texts was made in 1406 or 1407 by Jacobus Angelus in Florence, Italy, under the name Geographia Claudii Ptolemaei.[12] It is not thought that his edition had maps,[13] although Manuel Chrysoloras had given Palla Strozzi a Greek copy of Planudes's maps in Florence in 1397.


The Geography consists of three sections, divided among 8 books. Book I is a treatise on cartography, describing the methods used to assemble and arrange Ptolemy's data. From Book II through the beginning of Book VII, a gazetteer provides longitude and latitude values for the world known to the ancient Romans (the "ecumene"). The rest of Book VII provides details on three projections to be used for the construction of a map of the world, varying in complexity and fidelity. Book VIII constitutes an atlas of regional maps. The maps include a recapitulation of some of the values given earlier in the work, which were intended to be used as captions to clarify the map's contents and maintain their accuracy during copying.

Cartographical treatise

Maps based on scientific principles had been made in Europe since the time of Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BC. Ptolemy improved the treatment of map projections.[14] He provided instructions on how to create his maps in the first section of the work.


The gazetteer section of Ptolemy's work provided latitude and longitude coordinates for all the places and geographical features in the work. Latitude was expressed in degrees of arc from the equator, the same system that is used now, though Ptolemy used fractions of a degree rather than minutes of arc.[15] His Prime Meridian ran through the Fortunate Isles, the westernmost land recorded,[16] at around the position of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. The maps spanned 180 degrees of longitude from the Fortunate Isles in the Atlantic to China.

Ptolemy was aware that Europe knew only about a quarter of the globe.


Ptolemy's work included a single large and less detailed world map and then separate and more detailed regional maps. The first Greek manuscripts compiled after Maximus Planudes's rediscovery of the text had as many as 64 regional maps.[b] The standard set in Western Europe came to be 26: 10 European maps, 4 African maps, and 12 Asian maps. As early as the 1420s, these canonical maps were complemented by extra-Ptolemaic regional maps depicting, e.g., Scandinavia.


The Ptolemy world map, including the countries of "Serica" and "Sinae" (Cattigara) at the extreme right beyond the island of "Taprobane" (Sri Lanka) and the "Aurea Chersonesus" (Malay peninsula).

Descriptio Prime Tabulae Europae

1st Map of Europe
The islands of Albion amd Hibernia

Septima Europe Tabula

7th Map of Europe
The islands of Sardinia and Sicily



The original treatise by Marinus of Tyre that formed the basis of Ptolemy's Geography has been completely lost. A world map based on Ptolemy was displayed in Augustodunum (Autun, France) in late Roman times. Pappus, writing at Alexandria in the 4th century, produced a commentary on Ptolemy's Geography and used it as the basis of his (now lost) Chorography of the Ecumene.[18] Later imperial writers and mathematicians, however, seem to have restricted themselves to commenting on Ptolemy's text, rather than improving upon it; surviving records actually show decreasing fidelity to real position.[18] Nevertheless, Byzantine scholars continued these geographical traditions throughout the Medieval period.[19]

Whereas previous Greco-Roman geographers such as Strabo and Pliny the Elder demonstrated a reluctance to rely on the contemporary accounts of sailors and merchants who plied distant areas of the Indian Ocean, Marinus and Ptolemy betray a much greater receptiveness to incorporating information received from them.[20] For instance, Grant Parker argues that it would be highly implausible for them to have constructed the Bay of Bengal as precisely as they did without the accounts of sailors.[20] When it comes to the account of the Golden Chersonese (i.e. Malay Peninsula) and the Magnus Sinus (i.e. Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea), Marinus and Ptolemy relied on the testimony of a Greek sailor named Alexandros, who claimed to have visited a far eastern site called "Cattigara" (most likely Oc Eo, Vietnam, the site of unearthed Antonine-era Roman goods and not far from the region of Jiaozhi in northern Vietnam where ancient Chinese sources claim several Roman embassies first landed in the 2nd and 3rd centuries).[21][22][23][24]

Medieval Islam

The Amir of Bani Bu Ali tribe, the likely Bliulaie of Ptolemy's map.

Muslim cartographers were using copies of Ptolemy's Almagest and Geography by the 9th century.[25] At that time, in the court of the caliph al-Maʾmūm, al-Khwārazmī compiled his Book of the Depiction of the Earth which mimicked the Geography[26] in providing the coordinates for 545 cities and regional maps of the Nile, the Island of the Jewel, the Sea of Darkness, and the Sea of Azov.[26] A 1037 copy of these are the earliest extant maps from Islamic lands.[27] The text clearly states that al-Khwārazmī was working from an earlier map, although this could not have been an exact copy of Ptolemy's work: his Prime Meridian was 10° east of Ptolemy's, he adds some places, and his latitudes differ.[26] C.A. Nallino suggests that the work was not based on Ptolemy but on a derivative world map,[28] presumably in Syriac or Arabic.[26] The colored map of al-Maʾmūm constructed by a team including al-Khwārazmī was described by the Persian encyclopædist al-Masʿūdī around 956 as superior to the maps of Marinus and Ptolemy,[29] probably indicating that it was built along similar mathematical principles.[30] It included 4530 cities and over 200 mountains.

Despite beginning to compile numerous gazetteers of places and coördinates indebted to Ptolemy,[31] Muslim scholars made almost no direct use of Ptolemy's principles in the maps which have survived.[25] Instead, they followed al-Khwārazmī's modifications and the orthogonal projection advocated by Suhrāb's early 10th-century treatise on the Marvels of the Seven Climes to the End of Habitation. Surviving maps from the medieval period were not done according to mathematical principles. The world map from the 11th-century Book of Curiosities is the earliest surviving map of the Muslim or Christian worlds to include a graticule but the copyist seems to have not understood its purpose, starting it from the left using twice the intended scale and then (apparently realizing his mistake) giving up halfway through.[32] Its presence does strongly suggest the existence of earlier, now-lost maps which had been mathematically derived in the manner of Ptolemy,[27] al-Khwārazmi, or Suhrāb. There are surviving reports of such maps.[31]

Ptolemy's Geography was translated from Arabic into Latin at the court of king Roger II of Sicily in the 12th century CE.[33] However, no copy of that translation has survived.


The Greek text of the Geography reached Florence from Constantinople in about 1400 and was translated into Latin by Jacobus Angelus of Scarperia around 1406.[12] The first printed edition with maps, published in 1477 in Bologna, was also be the first printed book with engraved illustrations.[34][35] Many editions followed (more often using woodcut in the early days), some following traditional versions of the maps, and others updating them.[34] An edition printed at Ulm in 1482 was the first one printed north of the Alps. Also in 1482, Francesco Berlinghieri printed the first edition in vernacular Italian.

Cosmographia, 1482.djvu&page=7
Edition printed in Ulm in 1482

Ptolemy had mapped the whole world from the Fortunatae Insulae (Cape Verde[36] or Canary Islands) eastward to the eastern shore of the Magnus Sinus. This known portion of the world was comprised within 180 degrees. In his extreme east Ptolemy placed Serica (the Land of Silk), the Sinarum Situs (the Port of the Sinae), and the emporium of Cattigara. On the 1489 map of the world by Henricus Martellus, which was based on Ptolemy’s work, Asia terminated in its southeastern point in a cape, the Cape of Cattigara. Cattigara was understood by Ptolemy to be a port on the Sinus Magnus, or Great Gulf, the actual Gulf of Thailand, at eight and a half degrees north of the Equator, on the coast of Cambodia, which is where he located it in his Canon of Famous Cities. It was the easternmost port reached by shipping trading from the Graeco-Roman world to the lands of the Far East.[37] In Ptolemy’s later and more well-known Geography, a scribal error was made and Cattigara was located at eight and a half degrees South of the Equator. On Ptolemaic maps, such as that of Martellus, Catigara was located on the easternmost shore of the Mare Indicum, 180 degrees East of the Cape St Vincent at, due to the scribal error, eight and a half degrees South of the Equator.[38]

Catigara is also shown at this location on Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 world map, which avowedly followed the tradition of Ptolemy. Ptolemy’s information was thereby misinterpreted so that the coast of China, which should have been represented as part of the coast of eastern Asia, was falsely made to represent an eastern shore of the Indian Ocean. As a result, Ptolemy implied more land east of the 180th meridian and an ocean beyond. Marco Polo’s account of his travels in eastern Asia described lands and seaports on an eastern ocean apparently unknown to Ptolemy. Marco Polo’s narrative authorized the extensive additions to the Ptolemaic map shown on the 1492 globe of Martin Behaim. The fact that Ptolemy did not represent an eastern coast of Asia made it admissible for Behaim to extend that continent far to the east. Behaim’s globe placed Marco Polo’s Mangi and Cathay east of Ptolemy’s 180th meridian, and the Great Khan’s capital, Cambaluc (Beijing), on the 41st parallel of latitude at approximately 233 degrees East. Behaim allowed 60 degrees beyond Ptolemy’s 180 degrees for the mainland of Asia and 30 degrees more to the east coast of Cipangu (Japan). Cipangu and the mainland of Asia were thus placed only 90 and 120 degrees, respectively, west of the Canary Islands.

The Codex Seragliensis was used as the base of a new edition of the work in 2006.[11] This new edition was used to "decode" Ptolemy's coordinates of Books 2 and 3 by an interdisciplinary team of TU Berlin, presented in publications in 2010[39] and 2012.[40][41]

Influence on Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus modified this geography further by using 53⅔ Italian nautical miles as the length of a degree instead of the longer degree of Ptolemy, and by adopting Marinus of Tyre’s longitude of 225 degrees for the east coast of the Magnus Sinus. This resulted in a considerable eastward advancement of the longitudes given by Martin Behaim and other contemporaries of Columbus. By some process Columbus reasoned that the longitudes of eastern Asia and Cipangu respectively were about 270 and 300 degrees east, or 90 and 60 degrees west of the Canary Islands. He said that he had sailed 1100 leagues from the Canaries when he found Cuba in 1492. This was approximately where he thought the coast of eastern Asia would be found. On this basis of calculation he identified Hispaniola with Cipangu, which he had expected to find on the outward voyage at a distance of about 700 leagues from the Canaries. His later voyages resulted in further exploration of Cuba and in the discovery of South and Central America. At first South America, the Mundus Novus (New World) was considered to be a great island of continental proportions; but as a result of his fourth voyage, it was apparently considered to be identical with the great Upper India peninsula (India Superior) represented by Behaim—the Cape of Cattigara. This seems to be the best interpretation of the sketch map made by Alessandro Zorzi on the advice of Bartholomew Columbus (Christopher’s brother) around 1506, which bears an inscription saying that according to the ancient geographer Marinus of Tyre and Christopher Columbus the distance from Cape St Vincent on the coast of Portugal to Cattigara on the peninsula of India Superior was 225 degrees, while according to Ptolemy the same distance was 180 degrees.[42]

Early modern Ottoman Empire

Prior to the 16th century knowledge of geography in the Ottoman Empire was limited in scope, with almost no access to the works of earlier Islamic scholars that superseded Ptolemy. His Geography would again be translated and updated with commentary into Arabic under Mehmed II, who commissioned works from Byzantine scholar George Amiroutzes in 1465 and the Florentine humanist Francesco Berlinghieri in 1481.[43][44]

Longitudes error and Earth size

There are two related errors:[45]

  • Considering a sample of 80 cities amongst the 6345 listed by Ptolemy, those that are both identifiable and for which we can expect a better distance measurement since they were well known, there is a systematic overestimation of the longitude by a factor 1.428 with a high confidence (coefficient of determination r² = 0.9935). This error produces evident deformations in Ptolemy's world map most apparent for example in the profile of Italy, which is markedly stretched horizontally.
  • Ptolemy accepted that the known Ecumene spanned 180° of longitude, but instead of accepting Eratosthenes's estimate for the circumference of the Earth of 252,000 stadia, he shrinks it to 180,000 stadia, with a factor of 1.4 between the two figures.

This suggests Ptolemy rescaled his longitude data to fit with the sacred number of 180,000 stadia as the circumference of the earth. Ptolemy rescaled experimentally obtained data in many of his works on geography, astrology, music, and optics.


Codex Seragliensis GI 57, fol. 33v

Codex Seragliensis GI 57, fol. 33v

Ptolemaios 1467 Scandinavia

Scandinavia in the Zamoyski Codex (c. 1467)

Servet Ptolomei geographicae enarrationis

1535 printed edition, title page

Claudii Ptolemaei geographia, 1843, vol1.djvu&page=7

19th-century print in Greek (3 volumes)

Prima Europe tabula

Prima Europe tabula One of the earliest surviving copies of Ptolemy's 2nd century map of the British Isles. 2nd edition, 1482.

See also


  1. ^ They are the Urbanas Graecus 82,[6] the Fragmentum Fabricianum Graecum 23,[7] and the Seragliensis 57[8] The Urbanas Graecus is usually considered the oldest,[9][10] although some argue for the precedence of the Turkish manuscript.[11]
  2. ^ For example, the illustrations for Burney MS 111,[17] most of which were inserted into an earlier copy of the Geography during the early 15th century.


  1. ^ Berggren (2001).
  2. ^ Dilke (1987b), pp. 267–268.
  3. ^ a b c Dilke (1987b), p. 268.
  4. ^ Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana [The Apostolic Vatican Library]. Vat. Gr. 177. Late 13th century
  5. ^ Milanesi (1996).
  6. ^ Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana [The Apostolic Vatican Library]. Urbinas Graecus 82. Late 13th century
  7. ^ Universitetsbiblioteket [The University Library of Copenhagen]. Fragmentum Fabricianum Graecum 23. Late 13th century
  8. ^ The Sultan's Library in Istanbul. Codex Seragliensis GI 57. Late 13th century
  9. ^ Dilke (1987b), p. 269.
  10. ^ Diller (1940).
  11. ^ a b Stückelberger (2006).
  12. ^ a b Angelus (c. 1406).
  13. ^ Clemens (2008), p. 244.
  14. ^ Snyder, John (1997-12-05). Flattening the Earth. University of Chicago Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780226767475.
  15. ^ Talbert, Richard (2017). Roman Portable Sundials: The Empire in Your Hand. Oxford University Press. pp. 119–123.
  16. ^ Wright (1923).
  17. ^ Images from Burney MS 111 at Wikicommons.
  18. ^ a b Dilke (1987a), p. 234.
  19. ^ Codex Athous Vatopedinus 655: Add. MS 19391, f 19v-20 (British Library, London)
  20. ^ a b Parker (2008), p. 118.
  21. ^ Young (2001), p. 29.
  22. ^ Mawer (2013), p. 38.
  23. ^ Suárez (1999), p. 90-92.
  24. ^ Yule (1915), p. 52.
  25. ^ a b Edson (2004), pp. 61–62.
  26. ^ a b c d Rapoport (2008), p. 128.
  27. ^ a b Rapoport (2008), p. 127.
  28. ^ Nallino (1939).
  29. ^ al-Masʿūdī, 33.
  30. ^ Rapoport (2008), p. 130.
  31. ^ a b Rapoport (2008), p. 129.
  32. ^ Rapoport (2008), p. 126–127.
  33. ^ Amari, Michele (1872). "Il Libro di Re Ruggiero ossia la Geografia di Edrisis". Bollettino della Societa Geografica Italiana (7): 1–24.. Cited in Kahlaoui, Tarek (2018). Creating the Mediterranean : Maps and the Islamic imagination. Brill. p. 148. ISBN 9789004347380.
  34. ^ a b Landau, David, and Parshall, Peter (1996). The Renaissance Print. Yale. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-0-300-06883-2.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  35. ^ Crone, G.R. (Dec 1964). "review of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. A Series of Atlases in Facsimile". The Geographical Journal. 130 (4): 577–578. doi:10.2307/1792324. JSTOR 1792324.
  36. ^ Dennis Rawlins (March 2008). "The Ptolemy GEOGRAPHY's Secrets" (PDF). DIO - the International Journal of Scientific History. 14. ISSN 1041-5440.
  37. ^ J.W. McCrindle, Ancient India as described by Ptolemy, London, Trubner, 1885, revised edition by Ramachandra Jain, New Delhi, Today & Tomorrow’s Printers & Publishers, 1974, p.204: “By the Great Gulf is meant the Gulf of Siam, together with the sea that stretches beyond it toward China”; Albert Herrmann, “Der Magnus Sinus und Cattigara nach Ptolemaeus”, Comptes Rendus du 15me Congrès International de Géographie, Amsterdam, 1938, Leiden, Brill, 1938, tome II, sect. IV, Géographie Historique et Histoire de la Géographie, pp.123-8.[1]
  38. ^ Paul Schnabel, „Die Entstehungsgeschichte des kartographischen Erdbildes des Klaudios Ptolemaios“, Sitzungsberichte der Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Verlag der Akademie der Wissenschaften, Bd.XIV, 1930, S.214-250, n.b. 239-243; cited in Albert Herrmann, “South-Eastern Asia on Ptolemy’s Map”, Research and Progress: Quarterly Review of German Science, vol.V, no.2, March–April 1939, pp.121-127, p.123.
  39. ^ Andreas Kleineberg, Christian Marx, Eberhard Knobloch, Dieter Lelgemann, Germania und die Insel Thule. Die Entschlüsselung von Ptolemaios´ „Atlas der Oikumene“. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 2010, ISBN 978-3-534-23757-9.
  40. ^ Andreas Kleineberg, Christian Marx, Dieter Lelgemann, Europa in der Geographie des Ptolemaios. Die Entschlüsselung des „Atlas Oikumene“: Zwischen Orkney, Gibraltar und den Dinariden. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt, 2010, ISBN 978-3-534-24835-3.
  41. ^ Christian Marx, Andreas Kleineberg, Die Geographie des Ptolemaios. Geographike Hyphegesis Buch 3: Europa zwischen Newa, Don und Mittelmeer. epubli, Berlin, 2012, ISBN 978-3-8442-2809-0.
  42. ^ “Alberico”, vol.IV, c. 169, Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Banco Rari 234; Sebastian Crino, "Schizzi cartografici inediti dei primi anni della scoperta dell' America", Rivista marittima, vol. LXIV, no.9, Supplemento, Novembre 1930, p.48, fig.18. Downloadable at:
  43. ^ Casale, Giancarlo (2003). The Ottoman 'Discovery' of the Indian Ocean in the Sixteenth Century: The Age of Exploration from an Islamic Perspective.
  44. ^ Brotton, Jerry. Trading Territories: Mapping the Early Modern World. p. 101. Archived from the original on 2016-04-06.
  45. ^ Lucio Russo (2012). "Ptolemy's Longitudes and Eratosthenes' Measurement of the Earth's Circumference" (PDF). Mathematics and Mechanics of Complex Systems. 1: 67–79. doi:10.2140/memocs.2013.1.67.


  • Ptolemy. Translated by Jacobus Angelus (c. 1406), Geographia. (in Latin)
  • Berggren, J. Lennart & al. (2001), Ptolemy's Geography by Ptolemy, Princeton: Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-09259-1.
  • Clemens, Raymond (2008), "Medieval Maps in a Renaissance Context: Gregorio Dati", in Talbert, Richard J.A.; Unger, Richard Watson, Cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods, Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, pp. 237–256
  • Dilke, Oswald Ashton Wentworth (1987a), "14 · Itineraries and Geographical Maps in the Early and Late Roman Empires" (PDF), History of Cartography, I, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 234–257.
  • Dilke, Oswald Ashton Wentworth (1987b), "15 · Cartography in the Byzantine Empire" (PDF), History of Cartography, I, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 258–275.
  • Diller, Aubrey (1940), "The Oldest Manuscripts of Ptolemaic Maps", Transactions of the American Philological Association (71), pp. 62–67.
  • Edson, Evelyn & al. (2004), Medieval Views of the Cosmos, Oxford: Bodleian Library, ISBN 978-1-85124-184-2.
  • al-Masʿūdī (1894), "Kitāb al-Tanbīh wa-al-ishrāf", Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum, 8, Leiden: Brill.
  • Mawer, Granville Allen (2013). "The Riddle of Cattigara". In Nichols, Robert and Martin Woods. Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia. National Library of Australia. pp. 38–39. ISBN 9780642278098.
  • Milanesi, Marica (1996), "Imago Mundi", Imago Mundi, 48: 43–64, doi:10.1080/03085699608592832 |contribution= ignored (help).
  • Nallino, C.A. (1939), "Al-Ḥuwārismī e il suo rifacimento della Geografia di Tolomeo", Raccolta di scritti editi e inediti, V, Rome: Istituto per l'Oriente, pp. 458–532. (in Italian)
  • Parker, Grant (2008). The Making of Roman India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-85834-2.
  • Rapoport, Yossef; et al. (2008), "The Book of Curiosities and a Unique Map of the World", Cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: Fresh Perspectives, New Methods, Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, pp. 121–138.
  • Stückelberger, Alfred & al., eds. (2006), Ptolemaios Handbuch der Geographie (Griechisch-Deutsch) [Ptolemy's Manual on Geography (Greek/German)], ISBN 978-3-7965-2148-5. (in German) & (in Greek)
  • Suárez, Thomas (1999), Early Mapping of Southeast Asia, Periplus Editions, ISBN 978-962-593-470-9.
  • Wright, John Kirtland (1923), "Isis", Isis, V (1): 75–98, doi:10.1086/358121, JSTOR 223599 |contribution= ignored (help).
  • Young, Gary Keith (2001). Rome's Eastern Trade: International Commerce and Imperial Policy, 31 BC-AD 305. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-24219-6.
  • Yule, Henry (1915). Henri Cordier, ed. Cathay and the Way Thither: Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, Vol I: Preliminary Essay on the Intercourse Between China and the Western Nations Previous to the Discovery of the Cape Route. 1. Hakluyt Society.

Further reading

  • Berggren, J. Lennart and Jones, Alexander. 2000. Ptolemy's Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters. Princeton University Press. Princeton and Oxford. ISBN 0-691-01042-0.
  • Cosgrove, Dennis. 2003. Apollo's Eye: A Cartographic Genealogy of the Earth in the Western Imagination. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore and London.
  • Gautier Dalché, Patrick. 2009. La Géographie de Ptolémée en Occident (IVe-XVIe siècle). Terratum Orbis. Turnhout. Brepols, .
  • Shalev, Zur, and Charles Burnett, eds. 2011. Ptolemy's Geography in the Renaissance. London; Turin. Warburg Institute; Nino Aragno. (In Appendix: Latin text of Jacopo Angeli's introduction to his translation of the Geography, with English translation by C. Burnett.)
  • Stevenson, Edward Luther. Trans. and ed. 1932. Claudius Ptolemy: The Geography. New York Public Library. Reprint: Dover, 1991. This is the only complete English translation of Ptolemy's most famous work. Unfortunately, it is marred by numerous mistakes (see Diller) and the place names are given in Latinised forms, rather than in the original Greek.
  • Diller, Aubrey (February 1935). "Review of Stevenson's translation". Isis. 22 (2): 533–539. doi:10.1086/346925. Retrieved 2007-07-15.

External links

Primary sources


Secondary material

Agathodaemon of Alexandria

Agathodaemon of Alexandria (Greek: Ἀγαθοδαίμων Ἀλεξανδρεὺς, Agathodaímōn Alexandreùs) was a Greek or Hellenized cartographer, presumably from Alexandria, Egypt, in late Antiquity, probably in the 2nd century A.D.Agathodaemon is mentioned in some of the earliest manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography:

Ἐκ τῶν Κλαυδίου Πτολεμαίου Γεογραφικῶν βιβλίων ὄκτο τὴν οἰκουμένην πᾶσαν Ἀγαθοδαίμων Ἀλεξανδρεὺς ὑπετύπωσε"From the eight books of geography of Claudius Ptolemaeus the whole habitable world Agathodaemon of Alexandria delineated."

The line appears in the running text of the Geography and not as a caption on the maps themselves. Since the inscriptions are the only surviving reference to him and these manuscripts only survive from the very late 13th century, the most that can be stated conclusively is that he lived sometime between the years AD 150 and 1300, although his classical name and his epithet—"the Alexandrian"—probably places him before that city's fall to the Caliphate in 641 and not contemporary with Maximus Planudes's reconstruction of the Ptolemaic atlas after 1295.In the Geography, Ptolemy shows his familiarity with existing maps, complaining of the inaccuracies introduced by cartographers to Marinus of Tyre's work through his failure to provide proper accompanying data, a fault Ptolemy remedied by providing sample captions in his own books VII and VIII. In those sections, he explicitly mentions that his text was to be accompanied by maps constructed according to his principles. Heeren argued for Agathodaemon having been the cartographer responsible for these original maps; Dinse for his having been the transcriber of the original papyrus scrolls to codices; and Fischer for a strictly literal reading of the inscription, showing that differences in the early manuscripts imply Agathodaemon drafted the world map but not the regional maps.A major consideration is that the current form of Ptolemy's regional maps are done according to Marinus's cylindrical projection—which Ptolemy disparages—rather than either of Ptolemy's; the world map is done according to the less-favored of the two projections Ptolemy offers.

Agathodaemon is sometimes conflated or confused with two other figures: the 3rd-century alchemist Agathodaemon and the 5th-century grammarian Agathodaemon who corresponded with Isidore of Pelusium.


Albanopolis (Ancient Greek: Ἀλβανόπολις, tr. Alvanópolis) was a city in ancient Roman Macedon specifically in Epirus Nova, the city of the Albanoi, an Illyrian tribe. The editors of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World locate Albanopolis at the modern-day village of Zgërdhesh, near Krujë, Albania. The ancient city may correspond with later mentions of the settlement called Arbanon and Albanon during the Middle Ages, although it is not certain this was the same place. The city appears at 150 AD almost 300 years after Roman conquest of the region.


Albion () is the oldest known name of the island of Great Britain. Today, it is still sometimes used poetically to refer to the island. The name for Scotland in the Celtic languages is related to Albion: Alba in Scottish Gaelic, Albain (genitive Alban) in Irish, Nalbin in Manx and Alban in Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. These names were later Latinised as Albania and Anglicised as Albany, which were once alternative names for Scotland.

New Albion and Albionoria ("Albion of the North") were briefly suggested as names of Canada during the period of the Canadian Confederation. Arthur Phillip, first leader of the colonisation of Australia, originally named Sydney Cove "New Albion", but later the colony acquired the name "Sydney".

Ardoch Roman Fort

Ardoch Roman Fort is an archaeological site just outside the village of Braco in Perthshire, Scotland, about 7 miles south of Crieff.

At Ardoch are the remains of a Roman fort and several marching camps which included a signal tower. Part of the Roman Gask Ridge, it is said to be one of the most complete Roman camps in Britain, and is one of the best-preserved series of Roman military earthworks in the whole Empire. It is protected as a scheduled monument.


The Corsicans (Corsican, Italian and Ligurian: Corsi; French: Corses) are a Romance ethnic group. They are native to Corsica, a Mediterranean island and a territorial collectivity of France.


Geography (from Greek: γεωγραφία, geographia, literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Geography is often defined in terms of two branches: human geography and physical geography. Human geography deals with the study of people and their communities, cultures, economies, and interactions with the environment by studying their relations with and across space and place. Physical geography deals with the study of processes and patterns in the natural environment like the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, and geosphere.

The four historical traditions in geographical research are: spatial analyses of natural and the human phenomena, area studies of places and regions, studies of human-land relationships, and the Earth sciences. Geography has been called "the world discipline" and "the bridge between the human and the physical sciences".

Geography (disambiguation)

Geography is the study of the earth and its features, inhabitants, and phenomena.

Geography may also refer to:

Geography (Front 242 album)

Geography (Tom Misch album)

Geography, a lost 3-volume work by Eratosthenes

Geography (Ptolemy), Ptolemy's main work besides the Almagest

Geography (Strabo), Strabo's 17-volume geographic encyclopedia

Geography (journal), published by the Geographical Association

Geography (game), a word chain game played on cities


Germania (; Latin: [ɡɛrˈmaː.ni.a]) was the Roman term for the geographical region in north-central Europe inhabited mainly by Germanic peoples.

It extended from the Danube in the south to the Baltic Sea, and from the Rhine in the west to the Vistula. The Roman portions formed two provinces of the Empire, Germania Inferior to the north (present-day southern Netherlands, Belgium, and western Germany), and Germania Superior to the south (Switzerland, southwestern Germany, and eastern France).

Germania was inhabited mostly by Germanic tribes, but also Celts, Balts, Scythians and later on Early Slavs. The population mix changed over time by assimilation, and especially by migration. The ancient Greeks were the first to mention the tribes in the area. Later, Julius Caesar wrote about warlike Germanic tribesmen and their threat to Roman Gaul, and there were military clashes between the Romans and the indigenous tribes. Tacitus wrote the most complete account of Germania that still survives.

The origin of the term "Germania" is uncertain, but was known by Caesar's time, and may be Gaulish in origin.

History of Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire, England derived from the merging of the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Lindsey with that controlled by the Danelaw borough Stamford. For some time the entire county was called 'Lindsey', and it is recorded as such in the Domesday Book. Later, Lindsey was applied to only the northern core, around Lincoln; it was defined as one of the three 'Parts of Lincolnshire', along with Holland in the south-east and Kesteven in the south west.

In 1888 when county councils were set up, Lindsey, Holland and Kesteven each were authorized to have separate "Part" councils. These survived until 1974, when Holland, Kesteven, and most of Lindsey were merged into Lincolnshire, and the northern part, with Scunthorpe and Grimsby, going to the newly formed non-metropolitan county of Humberside, along with most of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

An additional local government reform in 1996 abolished Humberside, and the parts south of the Humber became the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. These areas became part of Lincolnshire for ceremonial purposes, such as the Lord-Lieutenancy, but are not covered by the Lincolnshire police. These two authorities are in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England.

The remaining districts of Lincolnshire are Boston, East Lindsey, Lincoln, South Holland, South Kesteven, North Kesteven and West Lindsey. They are part of the East Midlands region.

History of geography

The history of geography includes many histories of geography which have differed over time and between different cultural and political groups. In more recent developments, geography has become a distinct academic discipline. 'Geography' derives from the Greek γεωγραφία – geographia, a literal translation of which would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276–194 BC). However, there is evidence for recognizable practices of geography, such as cartography (or map-making) prior to the use of the term geography.


Ireland ( (listen); Irish: Éire [ˈeːɾʲə] (listen); Ulster-Scots: Airlann [ˈɑːrlən]) is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.Politically, Ireland is divided between the Republic of Ireland (officially named Ireland), which covers five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In 2011, the population of Ireland was about 6.6 million, ranking it the second-most populous island in Europe after Great Britain. Just under 4.8 million live in the Republic of Ireland and just over 1.8 million live in Northern Ireland.The island's geography comprises relatively low-lying mountains surrounding a central plain, with several navigable rivers extending inland. Its lush vegetation is a product of its mild but changeable climate which is free of extremes in temperature. Much of Ireland was woodland until the end of the Middle Ages. Today, woodland makes up about 10% of the island, compared with a European average of over 33%, and most of it is non-native conifer plantations. There are twenty-six extant mammal species native to Ireland. The Irish climate is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and thus very moderate, and winters are milder than expected for such a northerly area, although summers are cooler than those in continental Europe. Rainfall and cloud cover are abundant.

The earliest evidence of human presence in Ireland is dated at 10,500 BC (12,500 years ago). Gaelic Ireland had emerged by the 1st century AD. The island was Christianised from the 5th century onward. Following the 12th century Norman invasion, England claimed sovereignty. However, English rule did not extend over the whole island until the 16th–17th century Tudor conquest, which led to colonisation by settlers from Britain. In the 1690s, a system of Protestant English rule was designed to materially disadvantage the Catholic majority and Protestant dissenters, and was extended during the 18th century. With the Acts of Union in 1801, Ireland became a part of the United Kingdom. A war of independence in the early 20th century was followed by the partition of the island, creating the Irish Free State, which became increasingly sovereign over the following decades, and Northern Ireland, which remained a part of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland saw much civil unrest from the late 1960s until the 1990s. This subsided following a political agreement in 1998. In 1973 the Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community while the United Kingdom, and Northern Ireland, as part of it, did the same.

Irish culture has had a significant influence on other cultures, especially in the field of literature. Alongside mainstream Western culture, a strong indigenous culture exists, as expressed through Gaelic games, Irish music and the Irish language. The island's culture shares many features with that of Great Britain, including the English language, and sports such as association football, rugby, horse racing, and golf.


Komopolis was a settlement in Assyria, which is mentioned by Ptolemy, 2nd century geographer, at his work Geography.Ptolemy refers to it at the chapter of Assyria, not with the settlements in the part of Tigris, but at the part of "the rest of the country, middle" (εν δε τη λοιπή χώρα μέση) between the following cities (from a total of 34 cities of Assyria), as shown below:





GaugamelaHoefer reports that those 34 cities existed during the period of the life of Ptolemy, the Assyria of the Seleucides and of the Arsacides, as he does not mention ancient cities which were in ruins since long.Barrington Atlas mentions that the city (less confidently) belongs to the Hellenistic and Roman period (330 BC - 30 BC), or confidently to the early Roman Empire (30 BC-AD 300).In his text for the names of cities during the Seleucid Empire, William Woodthorpe Tarn (1996) believes that several cities were referred to with nicknames and not with their official names, and in some cases, (including Komopolis among them) "descriptions of places as though they were names", a note mentioned also by Getzel M. Cohen (2006)

List of cartographers

Cartography is the study of map making and cartographers are map makers.

Magnus Sinus

The Magnus Sinus or Sinus Magnus (Latin; Greek: ὀ Μέγας Κόλπος, o Mégas Kólpos), also anglicized as the Great Gulf, was the form of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea known to Greek, Roman, Arab, Persian, and Renaissance cartographers before the Age of Discovery. It was then briefly conflated with the Pacific Ocean before disappearing from maps.


Mysomakedones (Greek: Μυσομακεδόνες), also Mysomacedonians or Myso-Macedonians, was a Hellenistic city in Anatolia. It was located in Mysia according to Ptolemy, but in the conventus (district) of Ephesus, Ionia, according to Pliny. Strabo mentions the presence of Macedonians and Mysians in Tmolus mountain, Lydia and the Mesogis region of Ephesus. In 1894, a 1st-century inscription from Antioch on the Maeander mentioning the δῆμος ὁ Μυσομακεδόνων ("demos of Mysomakedones") among Lydian, Phrygian and Carian cities, resolved the question in support of Pliny.

The colony is believed to have been established as a military settlement by the Seleucids and/or Attalids, with the intention to protect the coastal district from the Galatians. Two coins of the city dated to the 1st century have also been found, but the precise location of the settlement has not yet been established.

Protohistory of Ireland

Ireland can be said to have had a protohistorical period, when, in prehistory, the literate cultures of Greece and Rome began to take notice of it, and a further proto-literate period of ogham epigraphy, before the early historical period began in the 5th century. Attempts have been made to reconstruct the political developments of this period by reference to early medieval Irish genealogical texts.

Roman province

In Ancient Rome, a province (Latin: provincia, pl. provinciae) was the basic and, until the tetrarchy (from 293 AD), the largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside Italy. The word province in Modern English has its origins in the Latin term used by the Romans.

Provinces were generally governed by politicians of senatorial rank, usually former consuls or former praetors. A later exception was the province of Egypt, incorporated by Augustus after the death of Cleopatra; it was ruled by a governor of only equestrian rank, perhaps as a discouragement to senatorial ambition. This exception was unique, but not contrary to Roman law, as Egypt was considered Augustus' personal property, following the tradition of the kings of the earlier Hellenistic period.

The Latin term provincia also had a more general meaning of "jurisdiction".


The Sicambri, also known as the Sugambri or Sicambrians, were a Germanic people who during Roman times lived on the east bank of the Rhine river, in what is now Germany, near the border with the Netherlands. They were first reported by Julius Caesar.

Whether or not the Sicambri spoke a Germanic or Celtic language, or something else, is not certain, because they lived in the so-called Nordwestblock zone where these two language families came into contact and were both influential.

By the 3rd century the region, in which they and their neighbours had lived, had become part of the territory of the Franks, which was a new name that possibly represented a new alliance of older tribes, possibly including the Sicambri. Many Sicambri had however been moved into the Roman empire by this time.


Vestini (Ancient Greek: Οὐηστίνοι) were an Italic tribe who occupied the area of the modern Abruzzo (central Italy) included between the Gran Sasso and the northern bank of the Aterno river. Their main centres were Pitinum (near modern L'Aquila), Aufinum (Ofena), Peltuinum (Prata d'Ansidonia), Pinna (Penne) and Aternum (Pescara, shared with the Marrucini).

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