The Atlas comprises 20 charts and two cosmological pages with a date commencing January 1508 and thus it is appropriate to consider the construction of the Atlas as 1506/1507, thus the “Client” did not lose any of the cosmological data included when gaining possession.
It is a well produced atlas using vibrant colours and containing the most up to date geographical knowledge available. This includes the possibility of the later voyages of C Columbus in 1502/04 and the Pinzon and de Solis voyage of 1505/6 for the western extremity of the Gulf of Mexico; Vespucci’s voyages to the South American coast; Corte-Real to Labrador; the Portuguese to Africa and the Indian Ocean with Da Gama and Cabral, and with a touch of Claudius Ptolemy for the Far East.
There are within the 20 charts two virtually complete sections forming a Portolan Chart and a Planisphere and a single Planisphere chart. The subdivision is as follows;
Folio 1; Planisphere of the known world to a very small scale
Folio’s 2-12; with 9 charts the same scale and two charts at 150% scale they form a complete Portolan Chart (11 charts total).
Folio’s 13-20; these 8 charts form a nearly complete Planisphere, but surprisingly one page/chart may be missing as the Mediterranean Sea Basin is omitted from the set.
Thus the three sections will be investigated separately, and from this investigation the place of production is definitely determined and the authorship is shown by profession but perhaps still open to identification via a family, although it is narrowed down considerably.
THE PLANISPHERE SINGLE SHEET CHART; Folio 1
The chart is covered with toponyms with unusual spelling and a smattering of Greek written by a hand which varies considerably in its presentation. We read Aphrica, Gallia, Iternia, R Jaxartus, R Oxus as well as, “τολοσ αρκιίκος” and “τολοσ ανιαοκιίκοσ”, which are Golos Arkticus and Golos Antarkticus for the Arctic and Antarctic Poles and “Oceanus” in both Latin and Greek, which is given as “ώκεαυοϛ”.
However, use the scale bar to examine the planisphere and although it is to a very small scale it accords to the standard measurements of the day in that latitudes are all 75 units/degree and the longitudes for Europe and S Africa are the same producing a square chart for this section. The West Indies are drawn over large at 100 units/longitude degree which follows the previous Planispheres from 1500 by La Cosa onwards.
The setting out is centralised on the “Tropicus Cancri” being aligned to the east/west logo’s and thus the West Indies are latitudinally quite accurately placed as is the north coast of South America. In the centre of the planisphere, the east coast of Africa at c50E (Somalia peninsula) is aligned via the skewed 36N latitude angle to the Hyrcanian Sea/Caspian Sea reminiscent of the same layout on Fra Mauro’s great planisphere of c1450. The Persian Gulf is drawn to the Ptolemaic form and correctly positioned as is the tip of India, Cape Cormoran and Ceylon at 8N. The Tropics and Equator are well positioned, 23 ½ degrees apart and had this been drawn as a “normal” scale planisphere it would be seen as an excellent example, comparing well to those which preceded it. Thus it was based on a extant planisphere.
THE PORTOLAN CHART COMPOSITE; Folios 2-12;
When the 9 sheets of the same scale are placed together they form an overlapping composite of a nearly standard Portolan Chart, but there is a glaringly large hole in the overall chart comprising the northern part of the Adriatic Sea and the northern section of the Aegean Sea to the Dardanelles. But the two sheets which are drawn at 150% scale of the 9 sheets are actually the missing sections which if reduced to 67% provide the infill required to fully construct the Portolan Chart as they overlap all as required.
ChEGE/1/D002 & D003
This fact raised alarm bells in my mind as it is precisely the same format as the Vesconte Maggiolo 1511, JCB held Atlas as my text ChAVM/1 clearly illustrates. But the matching Vesconte Maggiolo charts are badly set out on the sheet such that they do not quite overlap to form a homogenous chart as my text indicates.
The second minor problem is that the final sheet, the Caspian Sea, has no information too correctly position it against the Black Sea sheet. This was solved using the single Planisphere sheet which accurately places the Caspian Sea and it can therefore be transferred to this Portolan Chart, and in the end a rather good Portolan Chart is delivered.
Thus there are 10 sheets total which form the Portolan Chart with the non-located Caspian Sea the eleventh. To all intents it is a standard Portolan Chart showing the Atlantic and the British Isles to the Caspian Sea and includes the North African Littoral, but it is devoid of cartouches and decoration, relying on colour instead for its form.
But there are many anomalous Toponyms which are to be discussed later.
THE PLANISPHERE COMPOSITE; Folios 13-20 ;
ChEGE/1/D008 & D009
ChEGE/1/D010 & D011
When joining the 8 Atlas sheets to form the Planisphere, another glaringly large hole was apparent, that of the standard Mediterranean Sea Basin Portolan Chart area. However the sheet comprising the east coast of Africa and the Indian Ocean gave one very good clue to positioning a substitute sheet. There in the North West corner of the sheet is shown the junction of the River Nile to the Mediterranean Sea coast. Thus I looked at the planispheres of 1500, 1506 and 1507 and found that there was a precise positional match from the Cantino Chart that when the Pillars of Hercules were aligned the position of the River Nile was an excellent match. Thus the Atlas pages could be joined as the four diagrams illustrate to form a complete Planisphere from the West Indies to the Golden Chersonesus. It is an accurate portrayal of parts geographically and then reverts to the Ptolemaic format for Asia.
Having achieved a complete Planisphere from the Atlas pages it was a simple task to compare earlier models available. First a comparison shown on four co-joining sheets is made between Egerton MS 2803 and the Cantino planisphere. Obviously the Mediterranean Sea basin is quite precise but other than that they are certainly not drawn from the same data in the West Indies although visually they are similar for Africa and the Far East. But to illustrate real similarities I conclude the comparisons by Cantino/Caverio, here we see they are taken from the same pattern/template as my texts ChCAN/1 and ChCAV/1 clearly indicate and in all probability it is taken from the Spanish master chart which was used to provide the original eastern section for the Cantino and Caverio charts before the western sections were added. I surmised that Caverio saw the Spanish Chart in Spain.
ChEGE/1/D012 & D013
ChEGE/1/D014 & D015
ChEGE/1/D016 & D017
ChEGE/1/D018 & D019
THE ANOMALIES FOUND ON THE CHARTS
They are anomalous as it is unusual for Greek toponyms to be found contre Italian and particularly when combined with obvious historical references. The only other cartographer I believe to have used Greek on a chart is Giovanni di Carignano whose chart is dated from 1327 (or Johannes de Mauro de Carignano, 1250/1329) who was the Presbyter of the Church of San Marco al Molo in Genoa. We may therefore infer that Clerics were trained in the use of the Greek Language. Carignano has added many Greek toponyms to his chart.
The first sheet, the Planisphere, along with Greek for the Poles has the Indian Ocean labelled Mare Obscurum and at the northern part of Russia we read of Glaciea and Congelatum Mare, Mare Verde and two capes on the Daule Peninsula.
The Caspian Sea has three lines of text in the centre with the first line nearly obscured now but obviously consisting of Greek Letters; the second line is baho anticum and the third line mare hycinum.
The Black Sea/Sea of Azov is called on the chart, Mar Magor and there is a mixture of Latin and Greek in that we read “Fl. Inson sive Borythers” and then “Phidonisi alias Kuavea” ( but in Greek lettering) with “Kuavea” being the feminine form ( to agree with “vnsos”-Island) of the adjective “Kuaveos” meaning Dark Blue, Black or Mournful which refers to the fact that the remains of Achilles and Patroclus were placed in a sanctuary on the Island. But the name “Phidonisi” is a transliteration of the Greek for Snake Island with Snake = “to qiso” or phonetically “to fee dee” and island to “vnsi = to nee see” and thus we have a double Greek toponym with the pronounciation “fee dee nee see”.
However at the northern coast above “constannnopolis” is the text;” fregione omnifolum mantinas infestor pirundis”, which requires no translation!
Many of the remaining sheets contain Greek Toponyms and historical additions to the toponyms such as “Tunis alias Carthago vel Carshish” (Carshish= kapxhson)”. But the most important item for determining the place of origination is to be found in one name.
PLACE OF PRODUCTION FROM TOPONYMS; GREEK AND ITALIAN
Genoa is written Zenoa and this is the Ligurian dialect where the Z and G letters are pronounced phonetically the same. They are also both the seventh letter of the alphabet and in Ligurian it can be written as Zena. Thus only an inhabitant of Zenoa/Zena is likely to use this form.
One particular sheet of the British Isles provides the main clue to the origins as above.
When we study the chart for the British Isles it becomes abundantly clear the Genoese connection is correct as the toponyms echo the Genoese trade route to Bruges and Flanders. The English Channel is named “icanali de Flandria”, the Godwin sands a hazard for sailors is named “Godoine” and the Dogger bank a very good fishing ground is named “banche di monachi” with its meaning “Monks” and this form is used often in the second half of the 1500’s instead of Monaci.
Just as many gulfs are named Colpho from the 1300 to 1600 where the H is placed where it is not required and in Italian the phenomenon is called hyper-correctionism. As this title does not reflect the “Dogger” in Italian or Ligurian it can only refer to the “Monk Fish” found abundantly here and because of its ugliness in the medieval period it tended to be spurned except by the Monks. It is actually a good tasting fish! We should also note that the “Flanders Galleys” of Venice traded here as well as the Florentines for a short period.
Surprisingly however the Greek makes a rather important mark on the island of Britain and Ireland as the diagrams illustrate and not only does it indicate the knowledge of the cartographer with Greek, but also of the historical wider context of Greek and Genoese incursions in the Mediterranean Sea basin area.
There are many more examples which will be found on the individual sheets but there is one toponym which surprised me, “Streto de Gibelta” which I have not seen on another chart, it normally being un-named, and there are also two shallow sea areas noted in the Mare de Leone, “labruta palmi quarto” and “palmi sei”.
THE ATLAS CARTOGRAPHER; INFORMATION GLEANED SO FAR
To investigate who may have drawn this excellent Atlas it is first necessary to detail the possibilities in Genoa c1507. In my text ChGEN/1 I produced a timescale chart for known cartographers in Genoa, showing that Albino de Canepa (1410-1515) trained Vesconte Maggiolo, who then as my text ChAVM/3 clearly shows trained Salvat de Pilestrina. However as I pointed out Vesconte Maggiolo’s training took place c1480/1490 and he departed for Naples 1507/08 to enable the production of his Atlas dated January 1511. We then have Salvat de Pilestrina, copying Vesconte Maggiolo and producing his chart in Majorca 1511 and hence he departed from Genoa probably at the same time as Vesconte Maggiolo left for Naples. Thus both of these cartographers were in Genoa 1506/07, but as can be clearly shown this MS 2803 Atlas is not in their style and differs considerably as a comparison of the British Isles plot quite clearly indicates; the script is also different.
Thus in 1506/07 we are only aware of Albino de Canepa being in Genoa as a cartographer, but this atlas is obviously not his work either.
Thus we are looking for an erudite person, trained in Greek and having a singular pattern/template which tends to point to the fact that he is a cleric. In the Genoese lists of Cartographers we know of two clerics, Giovanni di Carignano and Bartolomeo de Pareto whose chart is c1455. He is from a well known family and may well be the forerunner of our cartographer who trained in a Monastic setting and obtained his own pattern/template. I have not dismissed the fact that Vesconte Maggiolo had brothers and cousins who may well have filled the same position, but what seems strange to me is that Albino de Canepa was quite old in 1506/07 and probably not working, thus Genoa did not have a cartographer unless it is our mysterious person who filled the vacancy until Vesconte Maggiolo was summoned back from Naples in 1518 to act as the city cartographer. There are copious records for the Maggiolo family on-line, and there is now a text regarding the Pareto family available to purchase. Perhaps an in depth study may reveal our cartographer.
On the subject of Clerics as cartographers, I suggest that pages 516/518 of Les Cartes Portolanes are read. Here Ramon J Pujades sets down the interaction between Clerics and Seamen in the section entitled, “Clerics and Seamen: a spark kindled by contact between two worlds”.
An unusual Atlas presentation in that it can be argued its format is from copying separately a Portolan Chart and a Planisphere Chart onto sectional sheets with overlap to enable reconstruction. The single Planisphere sheet is actually set out correctly and then a freehand coastline is drawn with toponyms squeezed into the land-masses. How many of the toponyms are in the Ligurian Dialect I do not know, but, curious spellings and the spurious H are probably confirmatory points.
That the cartographer is a Cleric I think is beyond doubt; that he is Genoese versed in the Ligurian dialect is also beyond doubt.
Which family he is from remains to be fully investigated by a qualified researcher in the subject who can scour the local Genoese records for possible candidates. This would also determine if he was Genoa’s cartographer when both Vesconte Maggiolo and Salvat de Pilestrina departed for Naples and Majorca.
POST SCRIPT: I have tried to follow the possibility of another PARETO being involved and noted that Ramon J Pujades had prepared a text entitled “A newly discovered late Medieval Map of Italy by the Genoese Bartolomeo Trincherio de Pareto (1457). However the paper is now part of R J Pujades latest large tome hopefully to be published this year in Barcelona as a matching book to the magnificent Les Cartes Portolanes.