Aegyptus Antiqua Terra suis contenta bonnis non indiga mercis Aut Iois, in solo tanta est fidcuia Nilo. Abraham Ortelius.

Aegyptus Antiqua Terra suis contenta bonnis non indiga mercis Aut Iois, in solo tanta est fidcuia Nilo...

1609. Antwerp: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1609.

14 x 20 inches. Framed map, hand colored; lightly toned, frame lightly scuffed, very good condition. Not examined out of frame.

§ Gorgeous example of Ortelius' second map of Egypt, which was issued only in late editions of his Parergon. Ortelius’ interest in ancient civilizations and the ways they interact is evident in what he decides to include on the map, making it a snapshot of not just Ancient Egypt but also Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

Oriented with west at the top, this map displays ancient Egypt and some of its surrounding regions, with a particular focus on the Nile River. It extends from Libya (Libyae nomus) in the west to the Gulf of Suez (here called the Arabian Gulf, Arabici sinus) in the east, and from southern Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea (here called the Egyptian Sea, Aegyptium Mare).

The map separates Egypt into regions. The largest, in the south, is Upper Egypt (Thebaidis Regio or Aegyptus Superior). A smaller region north of the last is Middle Egypt (Heptanomia), and the region on the coast of the Mediterranean, which includes the Nile River Delta, is Lower Egypt (Aegyptus Inferior).

Mountain ranges and trees dot the land. However, the real focus of this map is around the Nile River, each bend and fork is carefully rendered. These details help to orient the viewer and give a sense of the physical geography of the land.

The water bodies portrayed on this map, including the Gulf of Suez (Arabici sinus) and Mediterranean Sea (Aegyptium Mare), are filled in with simple stippling. This works to not complicate the map, as it is already heavily labeled. A few ships decorate the waters, but otherwise they are not the focus of the map.

Cities are picked out as miniature views, typical of Ortelius’ style. Some of the more notable cities include Memphis and Alexandria, and the region around Alexandria is shown in more detail in an inset map at the top of the page. The inset contains an ornate strapwork border, making it one of three cartouches on this map.

A simpler cartouche near the inset contains a list of places whose locations are uncertain. Below this is a scale bar, indicating how to measure distance on the map. The final cartouche is the most elaborate, containing the title and a passage from the writing of the Roman poet Lucan, telling the reader that Egypt is a rich and bountiful country. This cartouche contains elaborate strapwork and some figural elements.

It is clear in looking at this map that Ortelius had less experience with and knowledge of Egypt than he had with some European countries and regions. Egypt was not as well mapped by European cartographers at the time of this map’s printing, and Ortelius would have been relying on classical sources for much of the information on the map. This lack of knowledge of the area is clear in certain details, such as the two lakes in Lower Egypt, Lake Moeris and Lake Mariout (Maria), which are somewhat larger and much closer together than they are in reality. To make his map as legitimate as possible, Ortelius cites many classical sources—Ptolemy, Strabo, Seneca, Herodotus, Pliny, and more—in helping him to place various cities and landforms. Item #124248

Price: $1,500.00

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