For millennia, man has been enthralled by the mysteries of the unknown. The Kraken, for example, would wreck any ship that crossed its path; gods and goddesses who would shoot vast bolts of lightning from the clouds or trick you in any manner imaginable; and half-human half-bird harpies who would swoop down and grab innocent human beings were all stories.

The Human Curiosity that Led to the Reconstruction of a 16th Century Map

This attraction existed even 430 years ago, when Urbano Monte made the first hand-drawn map. Dedicated collector David Rumsey and his equally interested nephew worked on recreating the 60-page atlas into a mosaic despite the map’s many years of wear and tear. Now, their efforts have paid off, as photos of the map in its original entire form are being made available to the public.

“Monte wanted to represent the entire world on a two-dimensional surface as near to a three-dimensional sphere as feasible,” Rumsey added. “Despite the anomalies surrounding the south pole, his projection accomplishes this.”

Despite the fact that nothing is known about the map’s originator, the restoration gives insight into how people in the 16th century viewed the world around them in the absence of GPS technologies and satellites that would have made their maps more accurate. The globe from above, as seen from the North Pole, is depicted in astonishing detail on the 1587 map. This was surprising because several other maps used diverse viewpoints of the Earth to create their maps.

Furthermore, this perspective shows that Monte intended to portray the Earth’s spherical form, which is a feature of our globe that is still questioned today. Another fascinating item was the inclusion of Japan on the map, which was unknown at the time. Monte’s inclusion was most likely owing to his encounter with Japanese delegates in Milan in 1585.

The map features unicorns and ships being assaulted by mermen as a nod to the fascination of enigmatic creatures from the unknown. It also contains several towns and landmasses that were not even on other maps at the time. Perhaps this emphasizes the value of human ingenuity and curiosity, as well as our feeling of attempting to make sense of the unknown in our own unique manner.

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