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Transcript of Carta Pisana
Late 13th century,
"Carta pisana", Bibliotheque Nationale de France (BNF), Dep. des Cartes et Plans, Res. Ge. B1118.
Public domain image
One of the earlier portolan chart survived.
The colors of the toponyms are not random, in particular the most important informations are in red: big cities and main winds.
32 winds, represented by lines in different colors, originally black, green, red.
The outline of the italian coast is probably created as the sum of all the distances and positions observed in the navigation.
This chart represents in some regards italian peninsula, but just as a consequence of is primarily use: a tool of navigation.
A scale bar, very useful to understand the distance between different points of the coastline.
You can use all the reliable informations of the chart (distances, compass rose, scale bar) to navigate and to extrapolate informations as the best wind to follow to reach a certain harbor.
This a navigational map and only the informations about the distance between cities of the coastline are reliable.
There is a clear grid. Sailors men probably used it to make calculation with the compass.
The chart is oriented with the north on the upper side.
north wind (tramontana)
The name of the wind
Toponyms, where the space is sufficient, are written from the coastline to right.
The map has two centers, from each center a compass rose with 16 directions.
02 Carta Pisana
a supplement of the analysis presented in “Letture da recuperare”*
*Perondi, L., Romei, L., 2011, “Letture da recuperare”, in «La Vita Nòva», iPad magazine of «Il Sole 24 Ore», April, n. 2, v. 1.1
Except for the image, all the texts and the visual analysis are released under Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.5 Italy License.
The image is used for the sole non-profit purpose of illustrating scientific statements. If somebody claims rights, please contact us and we will remove it.
Some notes about the map
This is a famous Portolan Chart known as ”Carta Pisana” or ”Carte Pisane”, it’s dated late 13th century. It was used as a tool
of navigation by sailors and merchants
in the middle ages.
In the same period of the T-0 mappaemundi (diagrammatic map of the world), medieval people produced this kind of map.
We chose to show it because of its
clear visual presentation and for the presence of a bar scale and of grids:
these elements show a continuity between the cartography during the middle ages and the renaissance.
The essential pages about Portolan
Campbell, T., 1987, “Portolan Charts from the Late Thirteenth Century to 1500”, in The History of Cartography. Vol. I. Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean, edited by J. B. Harley and D. Woodward, Chicago & London, The University of Chicago Press, pp. 371-463.
Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 2.5 Italy License.