Map of the Ptolemaic World

Map of the Ptolemaic World

References

  • Anonymous. Ancient and Classical Geography. J M Dent and Sons London, 1912

Map of the Ptolemaic World - History

Ptolemy (c.100-178) was a hugely important geographer and astronomer working in Ancient Rome. This map takes valuable information from his famous book Geographia. His work informed mapmakers on the size of the Earth, and the co-ordinates for the positions of all the places and features indicated on the map.

Until a copy of Geographia was translated from Greek into Latin in 1407, all knowledge of these co-ordinates had been lost in the West. The book created a sensation, as it challenged the very basis of medieval mapmaking – mapmakers before this had based the proportions of countries, not on mathematical calculations, but on the importance of different places - the more important a country was, the bigger it appeared on the map. In fact, many of Ptolemy’s calculations were later proved to be incorrect. However, the introduction of mathematics and the idea of accurate measurement were to change the nature of European mapmaking forever. This copy of Ptolemy's World Map was produced slightly later, in 1482.


Ptolemaic World by Hartmann Schedel. 1493

This world map is a robust woodcut taken from Ptolemy. The border contains twelve dour windheads while the map is supported in three of its corners by the solemn figures of Ham, Shem and Japhet taken from the Old Testament. What gives the map its present-day interest and attraction are the panels representing the outlandish creatures and beings that were thought to inhabit the furthermost parts of the earth. There are seven such scenes to the left of the map and a further fourteen on its reverse.

Hartmann Schedel (Nuremberg, 1440-1514) and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Hartmann Schedel grew up in Nuremberg and first studied liberal art in Leipzig. He earned a doctorate in medicine in Padua in 1466, then settled in Nuremberg to practice medicine and collect books. According to an inventory done in 1498, Schedel's library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books.

Schedel is best known for his writing the text for the Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible it includes the histories of many important Western cities. The Nuremberg Chronicle was one of the most remarkable books of its time. It was commissioned by Sebald Schreyer (1446–1520) and Sebastian Kammermeister (1446–1503) and published in 1493 in Nuremberg. Maps in the Chronicle were the first-ever illustrations of many cities and countries. Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff, the painters, were commissioned to provide the illustrations and to take care of the layout. The large workshop of Michael Wolgemut, then Nuremberg's leading artist in various media, provided the 1,809 woodcut illustrations (duplications included).

Albrecht Dürer was an apprentice with Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489, so he may well have participated in designing some of the illustrations.

The Liber Chronicarum was first published in Latin on 12 July 1493 in the city of Nuremberg, printed by Anton Koberger, the most successful publisher in Germany. A German translation followed on 23 December 1493. An estimated 1400 to 1500 Latin and 700 to 1000 German copies were published.

Due to the great success and prestige of the Chronicle, pirate editions soon appeared on the market. Johann Schönsperger (c. 1455-1521), a printer working out of Augsburg, published smaller editions of the Chronicle in 1496, 1497, and 1500 in German, and Latin.

Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

In Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus, was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, the second is the Geography , which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. The maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography, however, only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.

Item Number: 27810
Category: Antique maps > World and Polar
References: Shirley (World) - #19 Clancy - p.63 Map 5.3

Old, antique map of the Ptolemaic World, by Hartmann Schedel.

[Title :] Secunda Etas Mundi.

Cartographer: Claudius Ptolemy

Woodcut, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 31 x 43.5 cm (12.2 x 17.13 inch).
Verso: Latin text.
Condition: Original coloured, stitch holes along centrefold (as usual) - filled, margins a bit thumbed.
Condition Rating: A+

References: Shirley (World), #19 Clancy, p.63 Map 5.3.

From: Liber Chronicarum. (= Nuremberg Chronicle). Nuremberg, Koberger, 1493.

This world map is a robust woodcut taken from Ptolemy. The border contains twelve dour windheads while the map is supported in three of its corners by the solemn figures of Ham, Shem and Japhet taken from the Old Testament. What gives the map its present-day interest and attraction are the panels representing the outlandish creatures and beings that were thought to inhabit the furthermost parts of the earth. There are seven such scenes to the left of the map and a further fourteen on its reverse.

Hartmann Schedel (Nuremberg, 1440-1514) and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Hartmann Schedel grew up in Nuremberg and first studied liberal art in Leipzig. He earned a doctorate in medicine in Padua in 1466, then settled in Nuremberg to practice medicine and collect books. According to an inventory done in 1498, Schedel's library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books.

Schedel is best known for his writing the text for the Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible it includes the histories of many important Western cities. The Nuremberg Chronicle was one of the most remarkable books of its time. It was commissioned by Sebald Schreyer (1446–1520) and Sebastian Kammermeister (1446–1503) and published in 1493 in Nuremberg. Maps in the Chronicle were the first-ever illustrations of many cities and countries. Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff, the painters, were commissioned to provide the illustrations and to take care of the layout. The large workshop of Michael Wolgemut, then Nuremberg's leading artist in various media, provided the 1,809 woodcut illustrations (duplications included).

Albrecht Dürer was an apprentice with Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489, so he may well have participated in designing some of the illustrations.

The Liber Chronicarum was first published in Latin on 12 July 1493 in the city of Nuremberg, printed by Anton Koberger, the most successful publisher in Germany. A German translation followed on 23 December 1493. An estimated 1400 to 1500 Latin and 700 to 1000 German copies were published.

Due to the great success and prestige of the Chronicle, pirate editions soon appeared on the market. Johann Schönsperger (c. 1455-1521), a printer working out of Augsburg, published smaller editions of the Chronicle in 1496, 1497, and 1500 in German, and Latin.

Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

In Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus, was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, the second is the Geography , which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. The maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography, however, only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.


Contents

Bronze Age “Saint-Bélec slab” Edit

The Saint-Bélec slab discovered in 1900 by Paul du Châtellier, in Finistère, France, is dated to between 1900 BCE and 1640 BCE. A recent analysis, published in the Bulletin of the French Prehistoric Society, has shown that the slab is a three-dimensional representation of the River Odet valley in Finistère, France. This would make the Saint-Bélec slab the oldest known map of a territory in the world. According to the authors, the map probably wasn’t used for navigation, but rather to show the political power and territorial extent of a local ruler’s domain of the early Bronze age. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Babylonian Imago Mundi (ca. 6th c. BCE) Edit

A Babylonian world map, known as the Imago Mundi, is commonly dated to the 6th century BCE. [5] The map as reconstructed by Eckhard Unger shows Babylon on the Euphrates, surrounded by a circular landmass including Assyria, Urartu (Armenia) [6] and several cities, in turn surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with eight outlying regions (nagu) arranged around it in the shape of triangles, so as to form a star. The accompanying text mentions a distance of seven beru between the outlying regions. The descriptions of five of them have survived: [7]

  • the third region is where "the winged bird ends not his flight," i.e., cannot reach.
  • on the fourth region "the light is brighter than that of sunset or stars": it lay in the northwest, and after sunset in summer was practically in semi-obscurity.
  • The fifth region, due north, lay in complete darkness, a land "where one sees nothing," and "the sun is not visible."
  • the sixth region, "where a horned bull dwells and attacks the newcomer"
  • the seventh region lay in the east and is "where the morning dawns."

Anaximander (c. 610 – 546 BCE) Edit

Anaximander (died c. 546 BCE) is credited with having created one of the first maps of the world, [8] which was circular in form and showed the known lands of the world grouped around the Aegean Sea at the center. This was all surrounded by the ocean.

Hecataeus of Miletus (c. 550–476 BCE) Edit

Hecataeus of Miletus (died c. 476 BCE) is credited with a work entitled Periodos Ges ("Travels round the Earth" or "World Survey'), in two books each organized in the manner of a periplus, a point-to-point coastal survey. One on Europe, is essentially a periplus of the Mediterranean, describing each region in turn, reaching as far north as Scythia. The other book, on Asia, is arranged similarly to the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea of which a version of the 1st century CE survives. Hecataeus described the countries and inhabitants of the known world, the account of Egypt being particularly comprehensive the descriptive matter was accompanied by a map, based upon Anaximander's map of the Earth, which he corrected and enlarged. The work only survives in some 374 fragments, by far the majority being quoted in the geographical lexicon the Ethnica, compiled by Stephanus of Byzantium.

Eratosthenes (276–194 BCE) Edit

Eratosthenes (276–194 BCE) drew an improved world map, incorporating information from the campaigns of Alexander the Great and his successors. Asia became wider, reflecting the new understanding of the actual size of the continent. Eratosthenes was also the first geographer to incorporate parallels and meridians within his cartographic depictions, attesting to his understanding of the spherical nature of the Earth.

Posidonius (c. 150–130 BCE) Edit

Posidonius (or Poseidonius) of Apameia (c. 135–51 BCE), was a Greek Stoic philosopher [10] who traveled throughout the Roman world and beyond and was a celebrated polymath throughout the Greco-Roman world, like Aristotle and Eratosthenes. His work "about the ocean and the adjacent areas" was a general geographical discussion, showing how all the forces had an effect on each other and applied also to human life. He measured the Earth's circumference by reference to the position of the star Canopus. His measure of 240,000 stadia translates to 24,000 miles (39,000 km), close to the actual circumference of 24,901 miles (40,074 km). [11] He was informed in his approach by Eratosthenes, who a century earlier used the elevation of the Sun at different latitudes. Both men's figures for the Earth's circumference were uncannily accurate, aided in each case by mutually compensating errors in measurement. However, the version of Posidonius' calculation popularised by Strabo was revised by correcting the distance between Rhodes and Alexandria to 3,750 stadia, resulting in a circumference of 180,000 stadia, or 18,000 miles (29,000 km). [12] Ptolemy discussed and favored this revised figure of Posidonius over Eratosthenes in his Geographia, and during the Middle Ages scholars divided into two camps regarding the circumference of the Earth, one side identifying with Eratosthenes' calculation and the other with Posidonius' 180,000 stadion measure.

Strabo (c. 64 BCE – 24 CE) Edit

Strabo is mostly famous for his 17-volume work Geographica, which presented a descriptive history of people and places from different regions of the world known to his era. [13] The Geographica first appeared in Western Europe in Rome as a Latin translation issued around 1469. Although Strabo referenced the antique Greek astronomers Eratosthenes and Hipparchus and acknowledged their astronomical and mathematical efforts towards geography, he claimed that a descriptive approach was more practical. Geographica provides a valuable source of information on the ancient world, especially when this information is corroborated by other sources. Within the books of Geographica is a map of Europe. Whole world maps according to Strabo are reconstructions from his written text.

Pomponius Mela (c. 43 CE) Edit

Pomponius is unique among ancient geographers in that, after dividing the Earth into five zones, of which two only were habitable, he asserts the existence of antichthones, people inhabiting the southern temperate zone inaccessible to the folk of the northern temperate regions due to the unbearable heat of the intervening torrid belt. On the divisions and boundaries of Europe, Asia and Africa, he repeats Eratosthenes like all classical geographers from Alexander the Great (except Ptolemy) he regards the Caspian Sea as an inlet of the Northern Ocean, corresponding to the Persian (Persian Gulf) and Arabian (Red Sea) gulfs on the south.

Marinus of Tyre (c. 120 CE) Edit

Marinus of Tyre's world maps were the first in the Roman Empire to show China. Around 120 CE, Marinus wrote that the habitable world was bounded on the west by the Fortunate Islands. The text of his geographical treatise however is lost. He also invented the equirectangular projection, which is still used in map creation today. A few of Marinus' opinions are reported by Ptolemy. Marinus was of the opinion that the Okeanos was separated into an eastern and a western part by the continents (Europe, Asia and Africa). He thought that the inhabited world stretched in latitude from Thule (Shetland) to Agisymba (Tropic of Capricorn) and in longitude from the Isles of the Blessed to Shera (China). Marinus also coined the term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle. His chief legacy is that he first assigned to each place a proper latitude and longitude he used a "Meridian of the Isles of the Blessed (Canary Islands or Cape Verde Islands)" as the zero meridian.

Ptolemy (c. 150) Edit

Surviving texts of Ptolemy's Geography, first composed c. 150 , note that he continued the use of Marinus's equirectangular projection for its regional maps while finding it inappropriate for maps of the entire known world. Instead, in Book VII of his work, he outlines three separate projections of increasing difficulty and fidelity. Ptolemy followed Marinus in underestimating the circumference of the world combined with accurate absolute distances, this led him to also overestimate the length of the Mediterranean Sea in terms of degrees. His prime meridian at the Fortunate Isles was therefore around 10 actual degrees further west of Alexandria than intended, a mistake that was corrected by Al-Khwārizmī following the translation of Syriac editions of Ptolemy into Arabic in the 9th century. The oldest surviving manuscripts of the work date to Maximus Planudes's restoration of the text a little before 1300 at Chora Monastery in Constantinople (Istanbul) surviving manuscripts from this era seem to preserve separate recensions of the text which diverged as early as the 2nd or 4th century. A passage in some of the recensions credits an Agathodaemon with drafting a world map, but no maps seem to have survived to be used by Planude's monks. Instead, he commissioned new world maps calculated from Ptolemy's thousands of coordinates and drafted according to the text's 1st [14] and 2nd projections, [15] along with the equirectangular regional maps. A copy was translated into Latin by Jacobus Angelus at Florence around 1406 and soon supplemented with maps on the 1st projection. Maps using the 2nd projection were not made in Western Europe until Nicolaus Germanus's 1466 edition. [16] Ptolemy's 3rd (and hardest) projection does not seem to have been used at all before new discoveries expanded the known world beyond the point where it provided a useful format. [16]

Cicero's Dream of Scipio described the Earth as a globe of insignificant size in comparison to the remainder of the cosmos. Many medieval manuscripts of Macrobius' Commentary on the Dream of Scipio include maps of the Earth, including the antipodes, zonal maps showing the Ptolemaic climates derived from the concept of a spherical Earth and a diagram showing the Earth (labeled as globus terrae, the sphere of the Earth) at the center of the hierarchically ordered planetary spheres. [17] [18]

Tabula Peutingeriana (4th century) Edit

The Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table) is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. It is a 13th-century copy of an original map dating from the 4th century, covering Europe, parts of Asia (India) and North Africa. The map is named after Konrad Peutinger, a German 15th-16th-century humanist and antiquarian. The map was discovered in a library in Worms by Conrad Celtes, who was unable to publish his find before his death, and bequeathed the map in 1508 to Peutinger. It is conserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Hofburg, Vienna.


Contents

The Ptolemaic reign in Egypt is one of the best-documented time periods of the Hellenistic era, due to the discovery of a wealth of papyri and ostraca written in Koine Greek and Egyptian. [9]

Background Edit

In 332 BC, Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, invaded Egypt, which at the time was a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire known as the Thirty-first Dynasty under Emperor Artaxerxes III. [10] He visited Memphis, and travelled to the oracle of Amun at the Siwa Oasis. The oracle declared him to be the son of Amun.

Alexander conciliated the Egyptians by the respect he showed for their religion, but he appointed Macedonians to virtually all the senior posts in the country, and founded a new Greek city, Alexandria, to be the new capital. The wealth of Egypt could now be harnessed for Alexander's conquest of the rest of the Achaemenid Empire. Early in 331 BC he was ready to depart, and led his forces away to Phoenicia. He left Cleomenes of Naucratis as the ruling nomarch to control Egypt in his absence. Alexander never returned to Egypt.

Establishment Edit

Following Alexander's death in Babylon in 323 BC, [11] a succession crisis erupted among his generals. Initially, Perdiccas ruled the empire as regent for Alexander's half-brother Arrhidaeus, who became Philip III of Macedon, and then as regent for both Philip III and Alexander's infant son Alexander IV of Macedon, who had not been born at the time of his father's death. Perdiccas appointed Ptolemy, one of Alexander's closest companions, to be satrap of Egypt. Ptolemy ruled Egypt from 323 BC, nominally in the name of the joint kings Philip III and Alexander IV. However, as Alexander the Great's empire disintegrated, Ptolemy soon established himself as ruler in his own right. Ptolemy successfully defended Egypt against an invasion by Perdiccas in 321 BC, and consolidated his position in Egypt and the surrounding areas during the Wars of the Diadochi (322–301 BC). In 305 BC, Ptolemy took the title of King. As Ptolemy I Soter ("Saviour"), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty that was to rule Egypt for nearly 300 years.

All the male rulers of the dynasty took the name Ptolemy, while princesses and queens preferred the names Cleopatra, Arsinoë and Berenice. Because the Ptolemaic kings adopted the Egyptian custom of marrying their sisters, many of the kings ruled jointly with their spouses, who were also of the royal house. This custom made Ptolemaic politics confusingly incestuous, and the later Ptolemies were increasingly feeble. The only Ptolemaic Queens to officially rule on their own were Berenice III and Berenice IV. Cleopatra V did co-rule, but it was with another female, Berenice IV. Cleopatra VII officially co-ruled with Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator, Ptolemy XIV, and Ptolemy XV, but effectively, she ruled Egypt alone. [ citation needed ]

The early Ptolemies did not disturb the religion or the customs of the Egyptians. [ citation needed ] They built magnificent new temples for the Egyptian gods and soon adopted the outward display of the pharaohs of old. Rulers such as Ptolemy I Soter respected the Egyptian people and recognized the importance of their religion and traditions. During the reign of Ptolemies II and III, thousands of Macedonian veterans were rewarded with grants of farm lands, and Macedonians were planted in colonies and garrisons or settled themselves in villages throughout the country. Upper Egypt, farthest from the centre of government, was less immediately affected, even though Ptolemy I established the Greek colony of Ptolemais Hermiou to be its capital. But within a century, Greek influence had spread through the country and intermarriage had produced a large Greco-Egyptian educated class. Nevertheless, the Greeks always remained a privileged minority in Ptolemaic Egypt. They lived under Greek law, received a Greek education, were tried in Greek courts, and were citizens of Greek cities. [12] There was not a strong attempt to assimilate Greeks into Egyptian culture. [ citation needed ]

Rise Edit

Ptolemy I Edit

The first part of Ptolemy I's reign was dominated by the Wars of the Diadochi between the various successor states to the empire of Alexander. His first objective was to hold his position in Egypt securely, and secondly to increase his domain. Within a few years he had gained control of Libya, Coele-Syria (including Judea), and Cyprus. When Antigonus, ruler of Syria, tried to reunite Alexander's empire, Ptolemy joined the coalition against him. In 312 BC, allied with Seleucus, the ruler of Babylonia, he defeated Demetrius, the son of Antigonus, in the battle of Gaza.

In 311 BC, a peace was concluded between the combatants, but in 309 BC war broke out again, and Ptolemy occupied Corinth and other parts of Greece, although he lost Cyprus after a naval battle in 306 BC. Antigonus then tried to invade Egypt but Ptolemy held the frontier against him. When the coalition was renewed against Antigonus in 302 BC, Ptolemy joined it, but neither he nor his army were present when Antigonus was defeated and killed at Ipsus. He had instead taken the opportunity to secure Coele-Syria and Palestine, in breach of the agreement assigning it to Seleucus, thereby setting the scene for the future Syrian Wars. [13] Thereafter Ptolemy tried to stay out of land wars, but he retook Cyprus in 295 BC.

Feeling the kingdom was now secure, Ptolemy shared rule with his son Ptolemy II by Queen Berenice in 285 BC. He then may have devoted his retirement to writing a history of the campaigns of Alexander—which unfortunately was lost but was a principal source for the later work of Arrian. Ptolemy I died in 283 BC at the age of 84. He left a stable and well-governed kingdom to his son.

Ptolemy II Edit

Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who succeeded his father as pharaoh of Egypt in 283 BC, [14] was a peaceful and cultured pharaoh, though unlike his father was no great warrior. Fortunately, Ptolemy I had left Egypt strong and prosperous three years of campaigning in the First Syrian War made the Ptolemies masters of the eastern Mediterranean, controlling the Aegean islands (the Nesiotic League) and the coastal districts of Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lycia and Caria. However, some of these territories were lost near the end of his reign as a result of the Second Syrian War. In the 270s BC, Ptolemy II defeated the Kingdom of Kush in war, gaining the Ptolemies free access to Kushite territory and control of important gold deposits south of Egypt known as Dodekasoinos. [15] As a result, the Ptolemies established hunting stations and ports as far south as Port Sudan, from where raiding parties containing hundreds of men searched for war elephants. [15] Hellenistic culture would acquire an important influence on Kush at this time. [15]

Ptolemy II was an eager patron of scholarship, funding the expansion of the Library of Alexandria and patronising scientific research. Poets like Callimachus, Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes, Posidippus were provided with stipends and produced masterpieces of Hellenistic poetry, including panegyrics in honour of the Ptolemaic family. Other scholars operating under Ptolemy's aegis included the mathematician Euclid and the astronomer Aristarchus. Ptolemy is thought to have commissioned Manetho to compose his Aegyptiaca, an account of Egyptian history, perhaps intended to make Egyptian culture intelligible to its new rulers. [16]

Ptolemy's first wife, Arsinoe I, daughter of Lysimachus, was the mother of his legitimate children. After her repudiation he followed Egyptian custom and married his sister, Arsinoe II, beginning a practice that, while pleasing to the Egyptian population, had serious consequences in later reigns. The material and literary splendour of the Alexandrian court was at its height under Ptolemy II. Callimachus, keeper of the Library of Alexandria, Theocritus, and a host of other poets, glorified the Ptolemaic family. Ptolemy himself was eager to increase the library and to patronise scientific research. He spent lavishly on making Alexandria the economic, artistic and intellectual capital of the Hellenistic world. The academies and libraries of Alexandria proved vital in preserving much Greek literary heritage.

Ptolemy III Euergetes Edit

Ptolemy III Euergetes ("the Benefactor") succeeded his father in 246 BC. He abandoned his predecessors' policy of keeping out of the wars of the other Macedonian successor kingdoms, and plunged into the Third Syrian War (246–241 BC) with the Seleucid Empire of Syria, when his sister, Queen Berenice, and her son were murdered in a dynastic dispute. Ptolemy marched triumphantly into the heart of the Seleucid realm, as far as Babylonia, while his fleets in the Aegean Sea made fresh conquests as far north as Thrace.

This victory marked the zenith of the Ptolemaic power. Seleucus II Callinicus kept his throne, but Egyptian fleets controlled most of the coasts of Anatolia and Greece. After this triumph Ptolemy no longer engaged actively in war, although he supported the enemies of Macedon in Greek politics. His domestic policy differed from his father's in that he patronised the native Egyptian religion more liberally: he left larger traces among the Egyptian monuments. In this his reign marks the gradual Egyptianisation of the Ptolemies.

Ptolemy III continued his predecessor's sponsorship of scholarship and literature. The Great Library in the Musaeum was supplemented by a second library built in the Serapeum. He was said to have had every book unloaded in the Alexandria docks seized and copied, returning the copies to their owners and keeping the originals for the Library. [17] It is said that he borrowed the official manuscripts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides from Athens and forfeited the considerable deposit he paid for them in order to keep them for the Library rather than returning them. The most distinguished scholar at Ptolemy III's court was the polymath and geographer Eratosthenes, most noted for his remarkably accurate calculation of the circumference of the world. Other prominent scholars include the mathematicians Conon of Samos and Apollonius of Perge. [16]

Ptolemy III financed construction projects at temples across Egypt. The most significant of these was the Temple of Horus at Edfu, one of the masterpieces of ancient Egyptian temple architecture and now the best-preserved of all Egyptian temples. Ptolemy III initiated construction on it on 23 August 237 BC. Work continued for most of the Ptolemaic dynasty the main temple was finished in the reign of his son, Ptolemy IV, in 212 BC, and the full complex was only completed in 142 BC, during the reign of Ptolemy VIII, while the reliefs on the great pylon were finished in the reign of Ptolemy XII.

Decline Edit

Ptolemy IV Edit

In 221 BC, Ptolemy III died and was succeeded by his son Ptolemy IV Philopator, a weak king whose rule precipitated the decline of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. His reign was inaugurated by the murder of his mother, and he was always under the influence of royal favourites, who controlled the government. Nevertheless, his ministers were able to make serious preparations to meet the attacks of Antiochus III the Great on Coele-Syria, and the great Egyptian victory of Raphia in 217 BC secured the kingdom. A sign of the domestic weakness of his reign was the rebellions by native Egyptians that took away over half the country for over 20 years. Philopator was devoted to orgiastic religions and to literature. He married his sister Arsinoë, but was ruled by his mistress Agathoclea.

Like his predecessors, Ptolemy IV presented himself as a typical Egyptian Pharaoh and actively supported the Egyptian priestly elite through donations and temple construction. Ptolemy III had introduced an important innovation in 238 BC by holding a synod of all the priests of Egypt at Canopus. Ptolemy IV continued this tradition by holding his own synod at Memphis in 217 BC, after the victory celebrations of the Fourth Syrian War. The result of this synod was the Raphia Decree, issued on 15 November 217 BC and preserved in three copies. Like other Ptolemaic decrees, the decree was inscribed in hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Koine Greek. The decree records the military success of Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III and their benefactions to the Egyptian priestly elite. Throughout, Ptolemy IV is presented as taking on the role of Horus who avenges his father by defeating the forces of disorder led by the god Set. In return, the priests undertook to erect a statue group in each of their temples, depicting the god of the temple presenting a sword of victory to Ptolemy IV and Arsinoe III. A five-day festival was inaugurated in honour of the Theoi Philopatores and their victory. The decree thus seems to represent a successful marriage of Egyptian Pharaonic ideology and religion with the Hellenistic Greek ideology of the victorious king and his ruler cult. [18]

Ptolemy V Epiphanes and Ptolemy VI Philometor Edit

Ptolemy V Epiphanes, son of Philopator and Arsinoë, was a child when he came to the throne, and a series of regents ran the kingdom. Antiochus III the Great of The Seleucid Empire and Philip V of Macedon made a compact to seize the Ptolemaic possessions. Philip seized several islands and places in Caria and Thrace, while the battle of Panium in 200 BC transferred Coele-Syria from Ptolemaic to Seleucid control. After this defeat Egypt formed an alliance with the rising power in the Mediterranean, Rome. Once he reached adulthood Epiphanes became a tyrant, before his early death in 180 BC. He was succeeded by his infant son Ptolemy VI Philometor.

In 170 BC, Antiochus IV Epiphanes invaded Egypt and captured Philometor, installing him at Memphis as a puppet king. Philometor's younger brother (later Ptolemy VIII Physcon) was installed as king by the Ptolemaic court in Alexandria. When Antiochus withdrew, the brothers agreed to reign jointly with their sister Cleopatra II. They soon fell out, however, and quarrels between the two brothers allowed Rome to interfere and to steadily increase its influence in Egypt. Philometor eventually regained the throne. In 145 BC, he was killed in the Battle of Antioch.

Throughout the 160s and 150s BC, Ptolemy VI has also reasserted Ptolemaic control over the northern part of Nubia. This achievement is heavily advertised at the Temple of Isis at Philae, which was granted the tax revenues of the Dodecaschoenus region in 157 BC. Decorations on the first pylon of the Temple of Isis at Philae emphasise the Ptolemaic claim to rule the whole of Nubia. The aforementioned inscription regarding the priests of Mandulis shows that some Nubian leaders at least were paying tribute to the Ptolemaic treasury in this period. In order to secure the region, the strategos of Upper Egypt, Boethus, founded two new cities, named Philometris and Cleopatra in honour of the royal couple. [20] [21]

Later Ptolemies Edit

After Ptolemy VI's death a series of civil wars and feuds between the members of the Ptolemaic dynasty started and would last for over a century. Philometor was succeeded by yet another infant, his son Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator. But Physcon soon returned, killed his young nephew, seized the throne and as Ptolemy VIII soon proved himself a cruel tyrant. On his death in 116 BC he left the kingdom to his wife Cleopatra III and her son Ptolemy IX Philometor Soter II. The young king was driven out by his mother in 107 BC, who reigned jointly with Euergetes's youngest son Ptolemy X Alexander I. In 88 BC Ptolemy IX again returned to the throne, and retained it until his death in 80 BC. He was succeeded by Ptolemy XI Alexander II, the son of Ptolemy X. He was lynched by the Alexandrian mob after murdering his stepmother, who was also his cousin, aunt and wife. These sordid dynastic quarrels left Egypt so weakened that the country became a de facto protectorate of Rome, which had by now absorbed most of the Greek world.

Ptolemy XI was succeeded by a son of Ptolemy IX, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos, nicknamed Auletes, the flute-player. By now Rome was the arbiter of Egyptian affairs, and annexed both Libya and Cyprus. In 58 BC Auletes was driven out by the Alexandrian mob, but the Romans restored him to power three years later. He died in 51 BC, leaving the kingdom to his ten-year-old son and seventeen-year-old daughter, Ptolemy XIII Theos Philopator and Cleopatra VII, who reigned jointly as husband and wife.

Final years Edit

Cleopatra VII Edit

Cleopatra VII ascended the Egyptian throne at the age of seventeen upon the death of her father, Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos. She reigned as queen "philopator" and pharaoh with various male co-regents from 51 to 30 BC when she died at the age of 39.

The demise of the Ptolemies' power coincided with the growing dominance of the Roman Republic. With one empire after another falling to Macedon and the Seleucid empire, the Ptolemies had had little choice but to ally with the Romans, a pact that lasted over 150 years. By Ptolemy XII's time, Rome had achieved a massive amount of influence over Egyptian politics and finances to the point that he declared the Roman senate the guardian of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. He had paid vast sums of Egyptian wealth and resources in tribute to the Romans in order to regain and secure his throne following the rebellion and brief coup led by his older daughters, Tryphaena and Berenice IV. Both daughters were killed in Auletes' reclaiming of his throne Tryphaena by assassination and Berenice by execution, leaving Cleopatra VII as the oldest surviving child of Ptolemy Auletes. Traditionally, Ptolemaic royal siblings were married to one another on ascension to the throne. These marriages sometimes produced children, and other times were only a ceremonial union to consolidate political power. Ptolemy Auletes expressed his wish for Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII to marry and rule jointly in his will, in which the Roman senate was named as executor, giving Rome further control over the Ptolemies and, thereby, the fate of Egypt as a nation.

After the death of their father, Cleopatra VII and her younger brother Ptolemy XIII inherited the throne and were married. Their marriage was only nominal, however, and their relationship soon degenerated. Cleopatra was stripped of authority and title by Ptolemy XIII's advisors, who held considerable influence over the young king. Fleeing into exile, Cleopatra would attempt to raise an army to reclaim the throne.

Julius Caesar left Rome for Alexandria in 48 BC in order to quell the looming civil war, as war in Egypt, which was one of Rome's greatest suppliers of grain and other expensive goods, would have had a detrimental effect on trade with Rome, especially on Rome's working-class citizens. During his stay in the Alexandrian palace, he received 22-year-old Cleopatra, allegedly carried to him in secret wrapped in a carpet. Caesar agreed to support Cleopatra's claim to the throne. Ptolemy XIII and his advisors fled the palace, turning the Egyptian forces loyal to the throne against Caesar and Cleopatra, who barricaded themselves in the palace complex until Roman reinforcements could arrive to combat the rebellion, known afterward as the battles in Alexandria. Ptolemy XIII's forces were ultimately defeated at the Battle of the Nile and the king was killed in the conflict, reportedly drowning in the Nile while attempting to flee with his remaining army.

In the summer of 47 BC, having married her younger brother Ptolemy XIV, Cleopatra embarked with Caesar for a two-month trip along the Nile. Together, they visited Dendara, where Cleopatra was being worshiped as pharaoh, an honor beyond Caesar's reach. They became lovers, and she bore him a son, Caesarion. In 45 BC, Cleopatra and Caesarion left Alexandria for Rome, where they stayed in a palace built by Caesar in their honor.

In 44 BC, Caesar was murdered in Rome by several Senators. With his death, Rome split between supporters of Mark Antony and Octavian. When Mark Antony seemed to prevail, Cleopatra supported him and, shortly after, they too became lovers and eventually married in Egypt (though their marriage was never recognized by Roman law, as Antony was married to a Roman woman). Their union produced three children the twins Cleopatra Selene and Alexander Helios, and another son, Ptolemy Philadelphos.

Mark Antony's alliance with Cleopatra angered Rome even more. Branded a power-hungry enchantress by the Romans, she was accused of seducing Antony to further her conquest of Rome. Further outrage followed at the donations of Alexandria ceremony in autumn of 34 BC in which Tarsus, Cyrene, Crete, Cyprus, and Judaea were all to be given as client monarchies to Antony's children by Cleopatra. In his will Antony expressed his desire to be buried in Alexandria, rather than taken to Rome in the event of his death, which Octavian used against Antony, sowing further dissent in the Roman populace.

Octavian was quick to declare war on Antony and Cleopatra while public opinion of Antony was low. Their naval forces met at Actium, where the forces of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa defeated the navy of Cleopatra and Antony. Octavian waited for a year before he claimed Egypt as a Roman province. He arrived in Alexandria and easily defeated Mark Antony's remaining forces outside the city. Facing certain death at the hands of Octavian, Antony attempted suicide by falling on his own sword, but survived briefly. He was taken by his remaining soldiers to Cleopatra, who had barricaded herself in her mausoleum, where he died soon after.

Knowing that she would be taken to Rome to be paraded in Octavian's triumph (and likely executed thereafter), Cleopatra and her handmaidens committed suicide on 12 August 30 BC. Legend and numerous ancient sources claim that she died by way of the venomous bite of an asp, though others state that she used poison, or that Octavian ordered her death himself.

Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, nominally succeeded Cleopatra until his capture and supposed execution in the weeks after his mother's death. Cleopatra's children by Antony were spared by Octavian and given to his sister (and Antony's Roman wife) Octavia Minor, to be raised in her household. No further mention is made of Cleopatra and Antony's sons in the known historical texts of that time, but their daughter Cleopatra Selene was eventually married through arrangement by Octavian into the Mauretanian royal line, one of Rome's many client monarchies. Through Cleopatra Selene's offspring the Ptolemaic line intermarried back into the Roman nobility for centuries.

With the deaths of Cleopatra and Caesarion, the dynasty of Ptolemies and the entirety of pharaonic Egypt came to an end. Alexandria remained the capital of the country, but Egypt itself became a Roman province. Octavian became the sole ruler of Rome and began converting it into a monarchy, the Roman Empire.

Roman rule Edit

Under Roman rule, Egypt was governed by a prefect selected by the emperor from the Equestrian class and not a governor from the Senatorial order, to prevent interference by the Roman Senate. The main Roman interest in Egypt was always the reliable delivery of grain to the city of Rome. To this end the Roman administration made no change to the Ptolemaic system of government, although Romans replaced Greeks in the highest offices. But Greeks continued to staff most of the administrative offices and Greek remained the language of government except at the highest levels. Unlike the Greeks, the Romans did not settle in Egypt in large numbers. Culture, education and civic life largely remained Greek throughout the Roman period. The Romans, like the Ptolemies, respected and protected Egyptian religion and customs, although the cult of the Roman state and of the Emperor was gradually introduced. [ citation needed ]

Ptolemy I, perhaps with advice from Demetrius of Phalerum, founded the Library of Alexandria, [23] a research centre located in the royal sector of the city. Its scholars were housed in the same sector and funded by Ptolemaic rulers. [23] The chief librarian served also as the crown prince's tutor. [24] For the first hundred and fifty years of its existence, the library drew the top Greek scholars from all over the Hellenistic world. [24] It was a key academic, literary and scientific centre in antiquity. [25]

Greek culture had a long but minor presence in Egypt long before Alexander the Great founded the city of Alexandria. It began when Greek colonists, encouraged by many Pharaohs, set up the trading post of Naucratis. As Egypt came under foreign domination and decline, the Pharaohs depended on the Greeks as mercenaries and even advisors. When the Persians took over Egypt, Naucratis remained an important Greek port and the colonist population were used as mercenaries by both the rebel Egyptian princes and the Persian kings, who later gave them land grants, spreading Greek culture into the valley of the Nile. When Alexander the Great arrived, he established Alexandria on the site of the Persian fort of Rhakortis. Following Alexander's death, control passed into the hands of the Lagid (Ptolemaic) Dynasty they built Greek cities across their empire and gave land grants across Egypt to the veterans of their many military conflicts. Hellenistic civilization continued to thrive even after Rome annexed Egypt after the battle of Actium and did not decline until the Islamic conquests.

Art Edit

Ptolemaic art was produced during the reign of the Ptolemaic Rulers (304–30 BC), and was concentrated primarily within the bounds of the Ptolemaic Empire. [26] [27] At first, artworks existed separately in either the Egyptian or the Hellenistic style, but over time, these characteristics began to combine. The continuation of the Egyptian art style evidences the Ptolemies' commitment to maintaining Egyptian customs. This strategy not only helped to legitimize their rule, but also placated the general population. [28] Greek-style art was also created during this time and existed in parallel to the more traditional Egyptian art, which could not be altered significantly without changing its intrinsic, primarily-religious function. [29] Art found outside of Egypt itself, though within the Ptolemaic Kingdom, sometimes used Egyptian iconography as it had been used previously, and sometimes adapted it. [30] [31]

For example, the faience sistrum inscribed with the name of Ptolemy has some deceptively Greek characteristics, such as the scrolls at the top. However, there are many examples of nearly identical sistrums and columns dating all the way to Dynasty 18 in the New Kingdom. It is, therefore, purely Egyptian in style. Aside from the name of the king, there are other features that specifically date this to the Ptolemaic period. Most distinctively is the color of the faience. Apple green, deep blue, and lavender-blue are the three colors most frequently used during this period, a shift from the characteristic blue of the earlier kingdoms. [32] This sistrum appears to be an intermediate hue, which fits with its date at the beginning of the Ptolemaic empire.

During the reign of Ptolemy II, Arsinoe II was deified either as stand-alone goddesses or as a personification of another divine figure and given their own sanctuaries and festivals in association to both Egyptian and Hellenistic gods (such as Isis of Egypt and Hera of Greece). [34] For example, Head Attributed to Arsinoe II deified her as an Egyptian goddess. However, the Marble head of a Ptolemaic queen deified Arsinoe II as Hera. [34] Coins from this period also show Arsinoe II with a diadem that is solely worn by goddesses and deified royal women. [35]

The Statuette of Arsinoe II was created c. 150–100 BC, well after her death, as a part of her own specific posthumous cult which was started by her husband Ptolemy II. The figure also exemplifies the fusing of Greek and Egyptian art. Although the backpillar and the goddess's striding pose is distinctively Egyptian, the cornucopia she holds and her hairstyle are both Greek in style. The rounded eyes, prominent lips, and overall youthful features show Greek influence as well. [37]

Despite the unification of Greek and Egyptian elements in the intermediate Ptolemaic period, the Ptolemaic Kingdom also featured prominent temple construction as a continuation of developments based on Egyptian art tradition from the Thirtieth Dynasty. [38] [39] Such behavior expanded the rulers' social and political capital and demonstrated their loyalty toward Egyptian deities, to the satisfaction of the local people. [40] Temples remained very New Kingdom and Late Period Egyptian in style though resources were oftentimes provided by foreign powers. [38] Temples were models of the cosmic world with basic plans retaining the pylon, open court, hypostyle halls, and dark and centrally located sanctuary. [38] However, ways of presenting text on columns and reliefs became formal and rigid during the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Scenes were often framed with textual inscriptions, with a higher text to image ratio than seen previously during the New Kingdom. [38] For example, a relief in the temple of Kom Ombo is separated from other scenes by two vertical columns of texts. The figures in the scenes are smooth, rounded, and high relief, a style continued throughout the 30th Dynasty. The relief represents the interaction between the Ptolemaic kings and the Egyptian deities, which legitimized their rule in Egypt . [36]

In Ptolemaic art, the idealism seen in the art of previous dynasties continues, with some alterations. Women are portrayed as more youthful, and men begin to be portrayed in a range from idealistic to realistic. [18] [25] An example of realistic portrayal is the Berlin Green Head, which shows the non-idealistic facial features with vertical lines above the bridge of the nose, lines at the corners of the eyes and between the nose and the mouth. [26] The influence of Greek art was shown in an emphasis on the face that was not previously present in Egyptian art and incorporation of Greek elements into an Egyptian setting: individualistic hairstyles, the oval face, “round [and] deeply set” eyes, and the small, tucked mouth closer to the nose. [27] Early portraits of the Ptolemies featured large and radiant eyes in association to the rulers’ divinity as well as general notions of abundance. [41]

Religion Edit

When Ptolemy I Soter made himself king of Egypt, he created a new god, Serapis, to garner support from both Greeks and Egyptians. Serapis was the patron god of Ptolemaic Egypt, combining the Egyptian gods Apis and Osiris with the Greek deities Zeus, Hades, Asklepios, Dionysos, and Helios he had powers over fertility, the sun, funerary rites, and medicine. His growth and popularity reflected a deliberate policy by the Ptolemaic state, and was characteristic of the dynasty's use of Egyptian religion to legitimize their rule and strengthen their control.

The cult of Serapis included the worship of the new Ptolemaic line of pharaohs the newly established Hellenistic capital of Alexandria supplanted Memphis as the preeminent religious city. Ptolemy I also promoted the cult of the deified Alexander, who became the state god of the Ptolemaic kingdom. Many rulers also promoted individual cults of personality, including celebrations at Egyptian temples.

Because the monarchy remained staunchly Hellenistic, despite otherwise co-opting Egyptian faith traditions, religion during this period was highly syncretic. The wife of Ptolemy II, Arsinoe II, was often depicted in the form of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, but she wore the crown of lower Egypt, with ram's horns, ostrich feathers, and other traditional Egyptian indicators of royalty and/or deification she wore the vulture headdress only on the religious portion of a relief. Cleopatra VII, the last of the Ptolemaic line, was often depicted with characteristics of the goddess Isis she usually had either a small throne as her headdress or the more traditional sun disk between two horns. [42] Reflecting Greek preferences, the traditional table for offerings disappeared from reliefs during the Ptolemaic period, while male gods were no longer portrayed with tails, so as to make them more human-like in accordance with the Hellenistic tradition.

Nevertheless, the Ptolemies remained generally supportive of the Egyptian religion, which always remained key to their legitimacy. Egyptian priests and other religious authorities enjoyed royal patronage and support, more or less retaining their historical privileged status. Temples remained the focal point of social, economic, and cultural life the first three reigns of the dynasty were characterized by rigorous temple building, including the completion of projects left over from the previous dynasty many older or neglected structures were restored or enhanced. [43] The Ptolemies generally adhered to traditional architectural styles and motifs. In many respects, the Egyptian religion thrived: temples became centers of learning and literature in the traditional Egyptian style. [43] The worship of Isis and Horus became more popular, as did the practice of offering animal mummies.

Memphis, while no longer the center of power, became the second city after Alexandria, and enjoyed considerable influence its High Priests of Ptah, an ancient Egyptian creator god, held considerable sway among the priesthood and even with the Ptolemaic kings. Saqqara, the city's necropolis, was a leading center of worship of Apis bull, which had become integrated into the national mythos. The Ptolemies also lavished attention on Hermopolis, the cult center of Thoth, building a Hellenistic-style temple in his honor. Thebes continued to be a major religious center and home to a powerful priesthood it also enjoyed royal development, namely of the Karnak complex devoted to the Osiris and Khonsu. The city's temples and communities prosperous, while a new Ptolemaic style of cemeteries were built. [43]

A common stele that appears during the Ptolemaic Dynasty is the cippus, a type of religious object produced for the purpose of protecting individuals. These magical stelae were made of various materials such as limestone, chlorite schist, and metagreywacke, and were connected with matters of health and safety. Cippi during the Ptolemaic Period generally featured the child form of the Egyptian god Horus, Horpakhered. This portrayal refers to the myth of Horus triumphing over dangerous animals in the marshes of Khemmis with magic power (also known as Akhmim). [44] [45]

Society Edit

Ptolemaic Egypt was highly stratified in terms of both class and language. More than any previous foreign rulers, the Ptolemies retained or co-opted many aspects of the Egyptian social order, using Egyptian religion, traditions, and political structures to increase their own power and wealth.

As before, peasant farmers remained the vast majority of the population, while agricultural land and produce were owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land. Macedonians and other Greeks now formed the new upper classes, replacing the old native aristocracy. A complex state bureaucracy was established to manage and extract Egypt's vast wealth for the benefit of the Ptolemies and the landed gentry.

Greeks held virtually all the political and economic power, while native Egyptians generally occupied only the lower posts over time, Egyptians who spoke Greek were able to advance further and many individuals identified as "Greek" were of Egyptian descent. Eventually, a bilingual and bicultural social class emerged in Ptolemaic Egypt. [46] Priests and other religious officials remained overwhelmingly Egyptian, and continued to enjoy royal patronage and social prestige, as the Ptolemies' relied on the Egyptian faith to legitimize their rule and placate the populace.

Although Egypt was a prosperous kingdom, with the Ptolemies lavishing patronage through religious monuments and public works, the native population enjoyed few benefits wealth and power remained overwhelmingly in the hands of Greeks. Subsequently, uprising and social unrest were frequent, especially by the early third century BC. Egyptian nationalism reached a peak in the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator (221–205 BC), when a succession of native self-proclaimed "pharoah" gained control over one district. This was only curtailed nineteen years later when Ptolemy V Epiphanes (205–181 BC) succeeded in subduing them, though underlying grievances were never extinguished, and riots erupted again later in the dynasty.

Coinage Edit

Ptolemaic Egypt produced extensive series of coinage in gold, silver and bronze. These included issues of large coins in all three metals, most notably gold pentadrachm and octadrachm, and silver tetradrachm, decadrachm and pentakaidecadrachm. [ citation needed ]

The military of Ptolemaic Egypt is considered to have been one of the best of the Hellenistic period, benefiting from the kingdom's vast resources and its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. [47] The Ptolemaic military initially served a defensive purpose, primarily against competing diadochi claimants and rival Hellenistic states like the Seleucid Empire. By the reign of Ptolemy III (246 to 222 BC), its role was more imperialistic, helping extend Ptolemaic control or influence over Cyrenaica, Coele-Syria, and Cyprus, as well as over cities in Anatolia, southern Thrace, the Aegean islands, and Crete. The military expanded and secured these territories while continuing its primary function of protecting Egypt its main garrisons were in Alexandria, Pelusium in the Delta, and Elephantine in Upper Egypt. The Ptolemies also relied on the military to assert and maintain their control over Egypt, often by virtue of their presence. Soldiers served in several units of the royal guard and were mobilized against uprisings and dynastic usurpers, both of which became increasingly common. Members of the army, such as the machimoi (low ranking native soldiers) were sometimes recruited as guards for officials, or even to help enforce tax collection. [48]

Army Edit

The Ptolemies maintained a standing army throughout their reign, made up of both professional soldiers (including mercenaries) and recruits. From the very beginning the Ptolemaic army demonstrated considerable resourcefulness and adaptability. In his fight for control over Egypt, Ptolemy I had relied on a combination of imported Greek troops, mercenaries, native Egyptians, and even prisoners of war. [47] The army was characterized by its diversity and maintained records of its troops' national origins, or patris. [49] In addition to Egypt itself, soldiers were recruited from Macedonia, Cyrenaica (modern Libya), mainland Greece, the Aegean, Asia Minor, and Thrace overseas territories were often garrisoned with local soldiers. [50]

By the second and first centuries, increasing warfare and expansion, coupled with reduced Greek immigration, led to increasing reliance on native Egyptians however, Greeks retained the higher ranks of royal guards, officers, and generals. [47] Though present in the military from its founding, native troops were sometimes looked down upon and distrusted due to their reputation for disloyalty and tendency to aid local revolts [51] however, they were well regarded as fighters, and beginning with the reforms of Ptolemy V in the early third century, they appeared more frequently as officers and cavalrymen. [52] Egyptian soldiers also enjoyed a socioeconomic status higher than the average native. [53]

To obtain reliable and loyal soldiers, the Ptolemies developed several strategies that leveraged their ample financial resources and even Egypt's historical reputation for wealth royal propaganda could be evidenced in a line by the poet Theocritus, "Ptolemy is the best paymaster a free man could have". [47] Mercenaries were paid a salary (misthos) of cash and grain rations an infantryman in the third century earned about one silver drachma daily. This attracted recruits from across the eastern Mediterranean, who were sometimes referred to misthophoroi xenoi — literally "foreigners paid with a salary". By the second and first century, misthophoroi were mainly recruited within Egypt, notably among the Egyptian population. Soldiers were also given land grants called kleroi, whose size varied according to the military rank and unit, as well as stathmoi, or residences, which were sometimes in the home of local inhabitants men who settled in Egypt through these grants were known as cleruchs. At least from about 230 BC, these land grants were provided to machimoi, lower ranking infantry usually of Egyptian origin, who received smaller lots comparable to traditional land allotments in Egypt. [47] Kleroi grants could be extensive: a cavalryman could receive at least 70 arouras of land, equal to about 178,920 square metres, and as much as 100 arouras infantrymen could expect 30 or 25 arouras and machimoi at least five auroras, considered enough for one family. [54] The lucrative nature of military service under the Ptolemies appeared to have been effective at ensuring loyalty. Few mutinies and revolts are recorded, and even rebellious troops would be placated with land grants and other incentives. [55]

As in other Hellenistic states, the Ptolemaic army inherited the doctrines and organization of Macedonia, albeit with some variations over time. [56] The core of the army consisted of cavalry and infantry as under Alexander, cavalry played a larger role both numerically and tactically, while the Macedonian phalanx served as the primary infantry formation. The multiethnic nature of the Ptolemaic army was an official organizational principle: soldiers were evidently trained and utilized based on their national origin Cretans generally served as archers, Libyans as heavy infantry, and Thracians as cavalry. [47] Similarly, units were grouped and equipped based on ethnicity. Nevertheless, different nationalities were trained to fight together, and most officers were of Greek or Macedonian origin, which allowed for a degree of cohesion and coordination. Military leadership and the figure of the king and queen were central for ensuring unity and morale among multiethnic troops at the battle of Raphai, the presence of Ptolemy was reportedly critical in maintaining and boosting the fighting spirit of both Greek and Egyptians soldiers. [47]

Navy Edit

The Ptolemaic Kingdom was considered a major naval power in the eastern Mediterranean. [57] Some modern historians characterize Egypt during this period as a thalassocracy, owing to its innovation of "traditional styles of Mediterranean sea power", which allowed its rulers to "exert power and influence in unprecedented ways". [58] With territories and vassals spread across the eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus, Crete, the Aegean islands, and Thrace, the Ptolemies required a large navy to defend against enemies like the Seleucids and Macedonians. [59] The Ptolemaic navy also protected the kingdom's lucrative maritime trade and engaged in antipiracy measures, including along the Nile. [60]

Like the army, the origins and traditions of the Ptolemaic navy were rooted in the wars following the death of Alexander in 320 BC. Various diadochi competed for naval supremacy over the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, [61] and Ptolemy I founded the navy to help defend Egypt and consolidate his control against invading rivals. [62] He and his immediate successors turned to developing the navy to project power overseas, rather than build a land empire in Greece or Asia. [63] Notwithstanding an early crushing defeat at the Battle of Salamis in 306 BC, the Ptolemaic navy became the dominant maritime force in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean for the next several decades. Ptolemy II maintained his father's policy of making Egypt the preeminent naval power in the region during his reign (283 to 246 BC), the Ptolemaic navy became the largest in the Hellenistic world and had some of the largest warships ever built in antiquity. [64] The navy reached its height following the victory of Ptolemy II during the First Syrian War (274–271 BC), succeeding in repelling both Seleucid and Macedonian control of the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean. [65] During the subsequent Chremonidean War, the Ptolemaic navy succeeded in blockading Macedonia and containing its imperial ambitions to mainland Greece. [66]

Beginning with the Second Syrian War (260–253 BC), the navy suffered a series of defeats and declined in military importance, which coincided with the loss of Egypt's overseas possessions and the erosion of its maritime hegemony. The navy was relegated primarily to a protective and antipiracy role for the next two centuries, until its partial revival under Cleopatra VII, who sought to restore Ptolemaic naval supremacy amid the rise of Rome as a major Mediterranean power. [67] Egyptian naval forces took part in the decisive battle of Actium during the final war of the Roman Republic, but once again suffered a defeat that culminated with the end of Ptolemaic rule.

At its apex under Ptolemy II, the Ptolemaic navy may have had as many as 336 warships, [68] with Ptolemy II reportedly having at his disposal more than 4,000 ships (including transports and allied vessels). [68] Maintaining a fleet of this size would have been costly, and reflected the vast wealth and resources of the kingdom. [68] The main naval bases were at Alexandria and Nea Paphos in Cyprus. The navy operated throughout the eastern Mediterranean, Aegean Sea, and Levantine Sea, and along the Nile, patrolling as far as the Red Sea towards the Indian Ocean. [69] Accordingly, naval forces were divided into four fleets: the Alexandrian, [70] Aegean, [71] Red Sea, [72] and Nile River. [73]


Contents

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. [14]

List of manuscripts
Repository and Collection Number Date Maps Image
Vatican Library, Vat. Gr. 191 [15] 12th-13th century No extant maps
Copenhagen University Library, Fragmentum Fabricianum Graecum 23 [15] 13th century Fragmentary originally world and 26 regional
Vatican Library, Urbinas Graecus 82 [15] 13th century World and 26 regional
Istanbul Sultan's Library, Seragliensis 57 [15] 13th century World and 26 regional (poorly preserved)
Vatican Library, Vat. Gr. 177 [15] 13th century No extant maps
Laurentian Library, Plut. 28.49 [15] 14th century Originally world, 1 Europe, 2 Asia, 1 Africa, 63 regional (65 maps extant)
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Gr. Supp. 119 [15] 14th century No extant maps
Vatican Library, Vat. Gr. 178 [15] 14th century No extant maps
British Library, Burney Gr. 111 [15] 14th-15th century Maps derived from Florence, Pluto 28.49
Bodleian Library, 3376 (46)-Qu. Catal. i (Greek), Cod. Seld. 41 [15] 15th century No extant maps
Vatican Library, Pal. Gr. 388 [15] 15th century World and 63 regional No extant maps
Laurentian Library, Pluto 28.9 (and related manuscript 28.38) [15] 15th century No extant maps
Biblioteca Marciana, Gr. 516 [15] 15th century Originally world and 26 regional (world map, 2 maps, and 2 half maps missing)
Vatican Library, Pal. Gr. 314 [15] 15th century No extant maps written by Michael Apostolios in Crete
British Library, Harley MS 3686 15th century
Huntington Library, Wilton Codex [16] 15th century One world, ten of Europe, four of Africa, and twelve of Asia, elegantly coloured and illuminated with burnished gold.

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 Edit

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. [17] He provided instructions on how to create his maps in the first section of the work.

Gazetteer Edit

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. [18] His Prime Meridian, of 0 longitude, ran through the Fortunate Isles, the westernmost land recorded, [19] at around the position of El Hierro in the Canary Islands. [20] 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. [ citation needed ]

Atlas Edit

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) .

Antiquity Edit

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. [22] 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. [23] 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. [23] Nevertheless, Byzantine scholars continued these geographical traditions throughout the Medieval period. [24]

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. [25] 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. [25] 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). [26] [27] [28] [29]

Medieval Islam Edit

Muslim cartographers were using copies of Ptolemy's Almagest and Geography by the 9th century. [30] 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 [31] 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. [31] A 1037 copy of these are the earliest extant maps from Islamic lands. [32] 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. [31] C.A. Nallino suggests that the work was not based on Ptolemy but on a derivative world map, [33] presumably in Syriac or Arabic. [31] The coloured 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, [34] probably indicating that it was built along similar mathematical principles. [35] It included 4530 cities and over 200 mountains.

Despite beginning to compile numerous gazetteers of places and coordinates indebted to Ptolemy, [36] Muslim scholars made almost no direct use of Ptolemy's principles in the maps which have survived. [30] 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 geographic coordinate system 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. [37] Its presence does strongly suggest the existence of earlier, now-lost maps which had been mathematically derived in the manner of Ptolemy, [32] al-Khwārazmi, or Suhrāb. There are surviving reports of such maps. [36]

Ptolemy's Geography was translated from Arabic into Latin at the court of King Roger II of Sicily in the 12th century AD. [38] However, no copy of that translation has survived.

Renaissance Edit

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 the first printed book with engraved illustrations. [39] [40] Many editions followed (more often using woodcut in the early days), some following traditional versions of the maps, and others updating them. [39] 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.

Ptolemy had mapped the whole world from the Fortunatae Insulae (Cape Verde [41] 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. [42] In Ptolemy's later and better-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. [43]

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 [44] and 2012. [45] [46]

Influence on Christopher Columbus Edit

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. [47]

Early modern Ottoman Empire Edit

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. [48] [49]

There are two related errors: [50]

  • 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 a figure of 180,000 stadia for the circumference of the earth, which he described as a "general consensus". [50] Ptolemy rescaled experimentally obtained data in many of his works on geography, astrology, music, and optics.


7. The Waldseemüller World Map

The Waldseemüller World Map, 1507. (Credit: Heritage Images / Getty Images)

Martin Waldseemüller is far from a household name, but perhaps he should be—he helped give the American continents their name. In 1507, the German cartographer produced the first map in history to depict the New World as a distinct landmass with the Pacific Ocean on its western side. In honor of the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who had first posited the separate continent theory, Waldseemüller and collaborator Matthias Ringmann dubbed these new Western Hemisphere territories 𠇊merica.” The Waldseemüller map has since been called 𠇊merica’s birth certificate,” but it also bears the distinction of being the most expensive world map of all time. In 2003, the Library of Congress purchased the only surviving copy for a whopping $10 million.


Ptolemy’s Map

The Ptolemy world map is a map of the world known to the Roman Empire in the 2nd c. AD. It is based on the description contained in Ptolemy’s book Geography, written c. 150.

The oldest surviving Ptolemaic world map, redrawn according to his 1st projection by monks at Constantinople under Maximus Planudes around 1300.

Ptolemy’s work probably originally came with maps, but none have been discovered. Instead, the present form of the map was reconstructed from Ptolemy’s coordinates by Byzantine monks under the direction of Maximus Planudes shortly after 1295. It probably was not that of the original text, as it uses the less favoured of the two alternate projections offered by Ptolemy.

Ptolemy’s world map, reconstituted from Ptolemy’s Geography (c. 150 AD) in the 15th century, indicating “Scythia” (Pakistan) in the center, “Sinae” (China) at the extreme right, beyond the island of “Taprobane” (Ceylon or Sri Lanka, oversized) and the “Aurea Chersonesus” (Southeast Asian peninsula).

The continents are given as Europe, Asia, and Libya (Africa). The World Ocean is only seen to the west. The map distinguishes two large enclosed seas: the Mediterranean and the Indian (Indicum Pelagus). Due to Marinus and Ptolemy’s mistaken measure of the circumference of the earth, the former is made to extend much too far in terms of degrees of arc due to their reliance on Hipparchus, they mistakenly enclose the latter with an eastern and southern shore of unknown lands, which prevents the map from identifying the western coast of the World Ocean.

India is bound by the Ganges Rivers, but it’s peninsula is much shortened. The nation of Scythia located on the Indus River Valley is coterminous to Pakistan. Ceylon (Taprobane) is greatly enlarged due to its reputation. The Malay Peninsula is given as the Golden Chersonese instead of the earlier “Golden Island”, which derived from Indian accounts of the mines on Sumatra. Beyond the Golden Chersonese, the Great Gulf (Magnus Sinus) forms a combination of the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea which is bound by the unknown lands thought to enclose the Indian Sea. China is divided into two realms—the Qin (Sinae) and the Land of Silk (Serica)—owing to the different accounts received from the overland and maritime Silk Roads.

Detail of East and Southeast Asia in Ptolemy’s world map. Gulf of the Ganges (Bay of Bengal) left, Southeast Asian peninsula in the center, South China Sea right, with “Sinae” (China).

The Geography and the map derived from it probably played an important role in the expansion of the Roman Empire to the East. Trade throughout the Indian Ocean was extensive from the 2nd c. AD, and many Roman trading ports have been identified in India. From these ports, Roman embassies to China are recorded in Chinese historical sources from around 166 AD.


Map of the Ptolemaic World - History

Acco, Acre. The original site is a mound called Tell-el-Fukhar, located one mile E of the present city. Ptolemais was a Hellenistic cosmopolitan city and port located in Galilee which was very important during the Hellenistic period. It was originally called Acco, and was a Canaanite city which was spared from captivity during the conquests of Joshua. The men of Asher settled among its inhabitants. It was at one time the most important harbor serving Galilee and was also an important center for Egyptian rule. It was also a center for the metal-working industry. Acco was renamed to Ptolemais during the time of Ptolemaic rule over Palestine. It was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Ptolemais, from Ptolemy the king of Egypt, who rebuilt it in 100 B.C. when he was in possession of Coele-Syria. Paul was there for one day on his return from his third missionary journey, and it was already the home of a Christian church (Acts 21:7).

Acts 21:7 "And when we had finished our voyage from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, greeted the brethren, and stayed with them one day."

During the Middle Ages it was called Acra, and afterward called St. Jean d'Acre.

Also see: 1 Macc. 5:22 11:22, 24 12:45, 48


Ptolemaic world, by Hartmann Schedel. 1493

The item displayed on this page has been sold. However, we have a similar map in stock:

Ptolemaic World by Hartmann Schedel. 1493
Secunda Etas Mundi.
[Item number: 27810]

This world map is a robust woodcut taken from Ptolemy. The border contains twelve dour windheads while the map is supported in three of its corners by the solemn figures of Ham, Shem and Japhet taken from the Old Testament. What gives the map its present-day interest and attraction are the panels representing the outlandish creatures and beings that were thought to inhabit the furthermost parts of the earth. There are seven such scenes to the left of the map and a further fourteen on its reverse.
The first edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle in July 1493 was in Latin and there was a reprint with German text in December of the same year. (Shirley).

Hartmann Schedel (Nuremberg, 1440-1514) and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Hartmann Schedel grew up in Nuremberg and first studied liberal art in Leipzig. He earned a doctorate in medicine in Padua in 1466, then settled in Nuremberg to practice medicine and collect books. According to an inventory done in 1498, Schedel's library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books.

Schedel is best known for his writing the text for the Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible it includes the histories of many important Western cities. The Nuremberg Chronicle was one of the most remarkable books of its time. It was commissioned by Sebald Schreyer (1446–1520) and Sebastian Kammermeister (1446–1503) and published in 1493 in Nuremberg. Maps in the Chronicle were the first-ever illustrations of many cities and countries. Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff, the painters, were commissioned to provide the illustrations and to take care of the layout. The large workshop of Michael Wolgemut, then Nuremberg's leading artist in various media, provided the 1,809 woodcut illustrations (duplications included).

Albrecht Dürer was an apprentice with Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489, so he may well have participated in designing some of the illustrations.

The Liber Chronicarum was first published in Latin on 12 July 1493 in the city of Nuremberg, printed by Anton Koberger, the most successful publisher in Germany. A German translation followed on 23 December 1493. An estimated 1400 to 1500 Latin and 700 to 1000 German copies were published.

Due to the great success and prestige of the Chronicle, pirate editions soon appeared on the market. Johann Schönsperger (c. 1455-1521), a printer working out of Augsburg, published smaller editions of the Chronicle in 1496, 1497, and 1500 in German, and Latin.

Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

In Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus, was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, the second is the Geography , which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. The maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography, however, only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.

Item Number: 27913 new
Category: Antique maps > World and Polar
References: Shirley (World) - #19

Old, antique map of the Ptolemaic World, by Hartmann Schedel.

Title: Secunda Etas Mundi.

Date of the first edition: 1493.
Date of this map: 1493.

Woodcut, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 310 x 435mm (12.2 x 17.13 inches).
Verso: Latin text.
Condition: Repairs in centre with reinstatements.
Condition Rating: B.
References: Shirley (World), #19

From: Liber Chronicarum. (= Nuremberg Chronicle). Nuremberg, Koberger, 1493.

This world map is a robust woodcut taken from Ptolemy. The border contains twelve dour windheads while the map is supported in three of its corners by the solemn figures of Ham, Shem and Japhet taken from the Old Testament. What gives the map its present-day interest and attraction are the panels representing the outlandish creatures and beings that were thought to inhabit the furthermost parts of the earth. There are seven such scenes to the left of the map and a further fourteen on its reverse.
The first edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle in July 1493 was in Latin and there was a reprint with German text in December of the same year. (Shirley).

Hartmann Schedel (Nuremberg, 1440-1514) and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Hartmann Schedel grew up in Nuremberg and first studied liberal art in Leipzig. He earned a doctorate in medicine in Padua in 1466, then settled in Nuremberg to practice medicine and collect books. According to an inventory done in 1498, Schedel's library contained 370 manuscripts and 670 printed books.

Schedel is best known for his writing the text for the Nuremberg Chronicle, an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history that follows the story of human history related in the Bible it includes the histories of many important Western cities. The Nuremberg Chronicle was one of the most remarkable books of its time. It was commissioned by Sebald Schreyer (1446–1520) and Sebastian Kammermeister (1446–1503) and published in 1493 in Nuremberg. Maps in the Chronicle were the first-ever illustrations of many cities and countries. Wolgemut and Pleydenwurff, the painters, were commissioned to provide the illustrations and to take care of the layout. The large workshop of Michael Wolgemut, then Nuremberg's leading artist in various media, provided the 1,809 woodcut illustrations (duplications included).

Albrecht Dürer was an apprentice with Wolgemut from 1486 to 1489, so he may well have participated in designing some of the illustrations.

The Liber Chronicarum was first published in Latin on 12 July 1493 in the city of Nuremberg, printed by Anton Koberger, the most successful publisher in Germany. A German translation followed on 23 December 1493. An estimated 1400 to 1500 Latin and 700 to 1000 German copies were published.

Due to the great success and prestige of the Chronicle, pirate editions soon appeared on the market. Johann Schönsperger (c. 1455-1521), a printer working out of Augsburg, published smaller editions of the Chronicle in 1496, 1497, and 1500 in German, and Latin.

Claudius Ptolemy (c.100 – c.170 AD)

In Latin: Claudius Ptolemaeus, was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and geographer who lived in Alexandria during the 2nd century. Much of medieval astronomy and geography were built on his ideas. He was the first to use longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates. This idea of a global coordinates system was highly influential, and we use a similar system today.

Ptolemy wrote several scientific treatises. The first is the astronomical treatise now known as the Almagest, the second is the Geography , which is a thorough discussion of the geographic knowledge of the Greco-Roman world. The third is the Apotelesmatika, an astrological treatise in which he attempted to adapt horoscopic astrology to the Aristotelian natural philosophy of his day.

The Geographia is a compilation of geographical coordinates of the part of the world known to the Roman Empire during his time. The maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy's Geography, however, only date from about 1300, after Maximus Planudes rediscovered the text. It seems likely that the topographical tables are cumulative texts – texts which were altered and added to as new knowledge became available in the centuries after Ptolemy.

The earliest printed edition with engraved maps was produced in Bologna in 1477, followed quickly by a Roman edition in 1478. An edition printed at Ulm in 1482, including woodcut maps, was the first one published north of the Alps.


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