Toponyms in Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia

  • Chet Van Duzer


Central Arabia Felix and Arabia Deserta, Syria, and Mesopotamia are some of the most promising areas for the investigation of place names on the Yale Martellus map, because they are some of the few parts of the map where a large number of toponyms are consistently legible, particularly in the 1959 ultraviolet images and the multispectral images. These toponyms derive from Ptolemy, and a comparison of Martellus’s spellings of the toponyms in these areas with those in the editions of Ptolemy published prior to the creation of his map reveals that Martellus was using a manuscript of Ptolemy, rather than a printed edition. We might expect that Waldseemüller, given his use of Martellus’s map as a source, would simply have copied the toponyms that he found in Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia on Martellus’s map. But this is not the case: Waldseemüller made his own selection of Ptolemaic toponyms in these areas, so that Martellus’s map has toponyms that do not appear on Waldseemüller’s and Waldseemüller’s map has toponyms that do not appear on Martellus’s. This is a very interesting demonstration of the fact that while Waldseemüller made extensive use of Martellus as a source for descriptive texts, he generally did not depend on him for toponyms. Another instance of Waldseemüller’s choice not to use Martellus as a source of place names is his copying of the vast majority of the toponyms on the western coast of Africa from Caverio’s map, rather than from Martellus, which will be discussed in detail below.

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chet Van Duzer
    • 1
  1. 1.David Rumsey Research FellowJohn Carter Brown LibraryProvidenceUSA

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