Augsburg Germany map

June 27, 2015
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Detail of the Peutinger map: Antioch.Home : index : ancient Rome : article by Jona Lendering ©
Konrad Peutinger (Maximilianmuseum, Augsburg) Peutinger map or Tabula Peutingeriana: medieval copy of an ancient Roman map, an invaluably important source for the study of ancient topography.

Konrad Peutinger (1465-1547) was a Renaissance man in every sense of the word. Born as a patrician of the German city of Augsburg, he took degrees in classics and law at the famous universities of Bologna and Padua, served as Stadtschreiber (town clerk) in his home town and advisor to the emperor of Austria, was something of an archaeologist, collected coins, ancient manuscripts and old books, owned the largest private library north of the Alps, published the first printed collection of Roman inscriptions, and exchanged letters with the greatest scholar of his age, Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam. He was married to Margareta Welser, a member of one of the wealthiest families of Germany and a scholar in her own right.

The first sheet of the Peutinger map. Detail: Antioch
In 1508, his friend Konrad Bickel or Celtes (1549-1508), the librarian of the emperor Maximilian of Austria, died, and Peutinger inherited an old map, which Bickel claimed to have found "somewhere in a library" in 1494. He had been a notorious collector and there is some doubt about the lawfulness of his acquisition. However this may be, the map now belonged to Peutinger, and has ever since been called Tabula Peutingeriana or Peutinger map. He recognized the map as a medieval copy of a Roman map, but was unable to prepare its publication.

This was left to Marcus Welser, a relative of Peutinger's wife and mayor of Augsburg. In 1591, the Fragmenta tabulae antiquae were published in Antwerp, at the famous publishing house of Johannes Moretus. The first modern edition is that of Konrad Miller of 1887, which was reprinted in 1976 and still is the best version we have. E. Weber, the editor of the 1976 facsimile, however, warns that there are several minor errors in the Miller edition.

The first sheet of the Peutinger map
The most characteristic aspect of the map is its odd size. The eleven sheets of parchment have a total length of 680 cm and are just over 33 cm high. Although the map shows towns, seas, rivers, forests, mountain ranges, and 200, 000 kilometer of roads, it is too compressed to be a real rendering of the landscape. Its creator did not attempt to show places and distances at the same scale, nor is the north always at the top of the map. It is better compared to the maps of the subways...
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