Tabula Geographic-Hydrographica Motus Oceani...
Published 1665, Amsterdam
Size: 13.5" X 22"
A rare and fascinating world map that is one of the first depictions of global ocean currents. The map also depicts abysses and volcanoes.
It is argued that Athanasius Kirchner’s map, published in his Mundus Subterranous, was inspired by the eruption of Vesuvius in 1637 and the subsequent Calabria earthquakes in 1638. As such, Kircher’s map tried to explain these phenomena and the causes for ocean currents in a more scientific way than those usually reserved to acts of God alone. Although some of his reasoning has proven scientifically incorrect, some of his ideas were indeed on the mark. For example, his idea of a the earth’s core has passed the test of time as his postulation that earthquakes were caused from the movements in parts of the earth’s crust that we now term shifts in tectonic plates.
Kircher’s map thus offers a fascinating depiction the earth both visually and through an early view of Earth that is more scientific based than religious. Ironically, it should be noted that Kircher was a Jesuit priest who, as early as 1665, attempted to provide answers to phenomena that were influenced more by scientific observations than those controlled by religion and superstition. The Jesuits society’s emphasis on education to provide answers to a changing worldview starting in the mid 16th Century thus allowed for Jesuits such as Kircher to ponder the natural world order in the 17th Century based on observations of the natural world that differed from long held assumptions.
It is also important to note that the map is thematic in scope rather than political. No political boundaries exist, and its focus is strictly on depicting ocean currents, and the sites of the known volcanoes and chasms. As a result, the map is not only distancing itself from the realms of superstition and religion, but also from the geo-political emphasis of cartography of the day. Its aim is to enlighten the viewer on the specifics of the phenomena that Kircher want us to view. It is sparse, yet informative, and, ironically, visually appealing.
(Sources: Shirley, The Mapping of the World, #436)
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