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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Jan 18, 2018
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CLSS 282 - Maps/Medtrean 1500BC-1500AD
This course covers the history of mapmaking (cartography) from the earliest maps of Egypt and Mesopotamia (second millennium BC), to the Greco-Roman traditions of geography, through the great medieval cultures of the Mediterranean (Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim), up to the earliest surviving map of the Mediterranean to incorporate the New World (AD 1510). As is well known from modern political cartography, maps are never neutral documents. This axiom was even more true of ancient and medieval maps, which often showed a great deal about how their creators thought about the world, the universe, God, and knowledge itself. Thus, this course could be called a history of cultural knowledge (and self-knowledge) as exemplified through various specific maps of the Mediterranean world over three millennia. We will start from the fragmentary glimpse of ancient Egypt in the Turin Papyrus; consider in detail the first surviving world map (the Roman Peutinger Table); dwell at length on the magnificent T-O Mappae Mundi from the medieval West (Ebstorf, Hereford, etc.); and finish with the map of the Ottoman admiral and cartographer Piri Reis, who was the first to depict the continents of America (thanks to a shipmate of Christopher Columbus imprisoned in an Ottoman jail). We will also have the opportunity to examine specific grand city maps from Mediterranean capitals, including the massive marble Forma Urbis Romae (AD 200) in Rome, maps of Jerusalem drawn by Crusader cartographers (AD 1100), and detailed maps of the infrastructure of Constantinople drawn by both the Byzantines and their Ottoman Turkish conquerers (AD 1453). Pre-modern maps of the Mediterranean show a breathtaking variety of experimentation with design while revealing much about the historical development of visual imagination and scientific method.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Lecture, Seminar

Classics Department

Course Attributes:
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