In the 2nd century CE, the Greek astronomer, geographer, and cartographer Claudius Ptolemy crafted a world atlas which became of pivotal importance in the history of geography. The work was revived by Italian Renaissance intellectuals, who admired Ptolemy's objective approach towards reality, free from any myth or legend. In 1472 Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, commissioned a 270-page volume to be decorated by Francesco Rosselli, an expert painter and engraver.
Ptolemy's Cosmography represents a portion of the world today known as "the Old World": Europe, Asia, and Africa.
With its forty-four maps enriched with decorative borders, the atlas laid the foundation for European geography and paved the way for the era of discoveries, by showing Europeans that the distance between their territory and the coastline of unexplored continents was shorter than expected.
The work is exceptionally detailed, allowing viewers to enjoy a thorough depiction of the world as it was known in 2nd-century Roman Empire. Asia is the most meticulously represented continent: its territory is depicted in twelve maps and divided into forty-eight provinces.
The Cosmographia illustrated by Francesco Rosselli bears significant similarities with the Codex Rustici, the account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land also produced in Florence a few decades earlier.
In contrast to most major world atlases, the volume features, in the last pages, depictions of important cities such as Venice, Florence, Rome, Constantinople, Damascus, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Cairo, and the Tuscan town of Volterra.
We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Cosmography of Claudius Ptolemy":
- Cosmographia des Claudius Ptolemaeus (Deluxe Edition) facsimile edition published by Belser Verlag, 1982
- Cosmographia des Claudius Ptolemaeus facsimile edition published by Belser Verlag, 1982