|A Book of Discovery|
|by M. B. Synge|
|A fascinating account of the world's famous explorers, including the early travelers in ancient times, the discovery of the New World, explorations in Africa and Australia, and the expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Many of the explorers tell part of their story in their own words. Amply illustrated with reproductions of early maps and charts, as well as old woodcuts, drawings, paintings, and miniatures. Emphasis is placed on the explorers' 'record of splendid endurance, of hardships bravely borne, of silent toil, of courage and resolution unequalled in the annals of mankind, of self-sacrifice unrivalled and faithful lives laid ungrudgingly down.' Ages 12-18 |
 WE cannot pass from the subject of mediŠval exploration without a word on the really delightful, if ignorant,
maps of the period, for they illustrate better than any description the state of geography at this time. The
Ptolemy map, summing up all the Greek and Roman learning, with its longitudes and latitudes, with its shaped
continents and its many towns and rivers, "indicates the high-water mark of a tide that was soon to ebb."
With the decline of the Roman Empire and the coming of Christianity we get a new spirit inspiring our
mediŠval maps, in which Jerusalem, hitherto totally obscure, dominates the whole situation.
The Christian Topography of Cosmas in the sixth century sets a new model. Figures blowing
trumpets representing the winds still blow on to the world, as they did in the days of Ptolemy, but the earth
is once more flat and it is again surrounded by the ocean stream. Round this ocean stream, according to
Cosmas, is an outer earth, the seat of Paradise, "the earth beyond the ocean where men dwelt before the
THE TURIN MAP OF THE WORLD, EIGHTH CENTURY.
Although these maps of Cosmas were but the expression of one man's ideas, they served as a model for others.
There is, at Turin, a delightful map of the eighth century with the four winds and the ocean stream as usual.
The world is divided into three—Asia, Africa,
 and Europe. Adam and Eve stand at the top; to the right of Adam lies Armenia and the Caucasus; to the left of
Eve are Mount Lebanon, the river Jordan, Sidon, and Mesopotamia. At their feet lie Mount Cannel, Jerusalem,
In Europe we find a few names such as Constantinople, Italy, France, Britannia and Scotland are islands in the
encircling sea. Africa is suitably represented by the Nile.
THE HEREFORD MAPPA MUNDI OF 1280.
DRAWN BY RICHARD DE HALDINGHAM AND LAFFORD,
WHO WAS PREBENDARY OF LINCOLN (HENCE HIS NAME LAFFORD) BEFORE 1283, AND TEH PREBENDARY OF HEREFORD IN 1305.
THE ORIGINAL MAP HANGS IN THE CHAPTER HOUSE LIBRARY OF HEREFORD CATHEDRAL. IN IT THE ORIGINAL GREEN OF THE SEAS
REPRODUCED HERE AS GREEN HAS BECOME A DARK BROWN BY AGE.
Of much the same date is another map known as the Albi, preserved in the library at Albi in Languedoc.
 The world is square, with rounded corners; Britain is an island off the coast of Spain, and a beautiful green
sea flows round the whole.
An example of tenth-century map-making, known as the Cottoniana or Anglo-Saxon map, is in the British Museum.
Here is a mixture of Biblical and classical knowledge. Jerusalem and Bethlehem are in their place and the
Pillars of Hercules stand at the entrance of the Mediterranean Sea. The British Isles are still distorted, and
little unnamed islands lie about the north of Scotland. In the extreme east lies an enormous Ceylon; in the
north-east corner of Asia is drawn a magnificent lion with mane and curling tail, with the words around him:
"Here lions abound." Africa as usual is made up of the Nile, Alexandria at its mouth, and its source in a
There is another form of these early maps. They are quite small and round. They are known as T-maps, being
divided into three parts—Europe, Asia, and Africa. Jerusalem is always in the centre, and the ocean
stream flows round.
After the manner of these, only on a very large scale, is the famous Mappa Mondi, by Richard of
Haldingham, on the walls of the Hereford Cathedral of the thirteenth century. Jerusalem is in the centre, and
 is there depicted. At the top is the Last Judgment, with the good and bad folk divided on either side. Adam
and Eve are there, so are the Pillars of Hercules, Scylla and Charybdis, the Red Sea coloured red, the Nile
and the Mountains of the Moon, strange beasts and stranger men.
THE KAISER HOLDING THE WORLD.
With the Hereford map came in that pictorial geography that makes the maps of the later Middle Ages so
"This is indeed the true way to make a map," says a modern writer. "If these old maps erred in the course of
their rivers and the lines of their mountains and space, they are not so misleading as your modern atlas with
its too accurate measurements. For even your most primitive map, with Paradise in the east—a gigantic
Jerusalem in the centre—gives a less distorted impression than that which we obtain from the most
scientific chart on Mercator's projection."
THE "ANGLO-SAXON" MAP OF THE WORLD, DRAWN ABOUT 990 A.D.
THIS MAP, WHICH IS FOUND IN ONE OF THE COTTON MMS. IN THE BRITISH MUSEUM, IS A GEOGRAPHICAL ACHIEVEMENT
REMARKABLE IN THE AGE WHICH PRODUCED IT. IT MAY PERHAPS BE THE WORK OF AN IRISH SCHOLAR-MONK. IT SHOWS
REAL KNOWLEDGE AND SCIENTIFIC INSIGHT IN ONE OF THE GLOOMIEST OF THE DARK AGES OF EUROPE.
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