New Map of the Arabia Felix (South-Eastern Arabian Peninsula)


This map of Arabia Felix is a copper-plate engraving dating from 1561, after Giacomo Gastaldi’s map of 1548. It shows the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Strait of Hormuz, and part of the Indian Ocean. The Qatar Peninsula southeast of Baharam (present-day Bahrain) can be clearly distinguished. This edition is by Girolamo Ruscelli (died 1566), a Venetian cartographer, polymath, and humanist. One of his best known works is his edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia, posthumously published in 1574. Ruscelli’s other major work is Secreti del reverendo donno Alessio Piemontese (Secrets of the reverend gentleman Alexis of Piedmont [a pseudonym generally accepted as being Ruscelli]), containing the experimental results of the Accademia Segreta (Secret academy), a scientific society that he founded in Naples in the 1540s. The sea monster shown here was not present on Gastaldi’s 1548 version, and other details also vary. This map was published in 1561 and reprinted in 1562, 1564 and 1574. It was completely reworked for the Geographia of Claudio Tolemeo in 1598−99.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Vincenzo Valgrisi, Venice, Italy


Title in Original Language

Arabia Felice nvova tavola

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : black and white ; 23 x 28 centimeters


  1. William Eamon and Francoise Paheau, “The Accademia Segreta of Girolamo Ruscelli: A Sixteenth-Century Italian Scientific Society, Isis 75, number 2 (June 1984).

Last updated: November 3, 2015