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Researchers Cast New Light On Old Map

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Author Topic: Researchers Cast New Light On Old Map  (Read 206 times)
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« on: November 17, 2008, 10:16:17 am »

The book contains
maps drawn according
to Ptolemy's instructions

(University of Oklahoma)   

Body of knowledge

He wrote his Geography to sum up existing knowledge of the subject, but he took it further than anyone
before him. He was the first person to use the system of longitude and latitude as we know it today.

The book begins with an introduction to the science of mapmaking, including the problem of how to project
a curved surface onto a plane.

It then presents a catalogue of names with the coordinates (longitude and latitude) of some 6,000 places,
which Ptolemy drew up using information gathered from sailors, merchants and the Roman military archives.
In Switzerland the list includes the names of the important Roman towns now known as Avenches, Nyon
and Martigny.

The last section of the book contains a map of the world, drawn according to Ptolemy's instructions, stretching from the Canaries to eastern China, and from just south of the equator to southern Scandinavia. This is supplemented by 26 country maps.

Ptolemy wrote for specialists and few copies of his books were made. His important work on astronomy was preserved by the Arabs and knowledge of it trickled back into mediaeval Europe; but such was European igno-
rance about Ptolemy himself that he was sometimes confused with the kings of Egypt of the same name.

Western Europe learnt about his Geography in the 14th century, thanks to copies made in Byzantium around
1300, some of which found their way to Italy.

The discovery of Ptolemy shattered the mediaeval world view; his work was soon translated into Latin,
and gained a further boost with the arrival of printing. All this just as European nations were on the point
of embarking on their voyages of discovery.

Despite Ptolemy's great historical importance, the new Swiss edition is the first complete Greek text since
a now outdated version published in the 1840s.

"I realised this was a gap that absolutely had to be filled," Stückelberger explained.

The researchers even managed to correct some of the mistakes in the old versions. Not surprisingly, numerous errors had crept in over the centuries.

The new book should help rekindle interest in Ptolemy and restore his reputation as a man of genius. He
may not have been a king of Egypt, but he was a prince among scientists.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2008, 10:20:25 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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