The Drawing of the Modern Geography of the Whole Africa


This rare map from 1564 printed on eight copperplates is the finest and most important large-scale map of Africa produced in the 16th century. Earlier maps were mostly printed from woodcuts; copperplates allowed the engraver to reproduce much more detail and finesse. The map was made by the Italian cartographer, engineer, and astronomer Giacomo Gastaldi (circa 1500–66) and engraved by Fabricius Licinus (circa 1521–65). The map depicts a stippled sea, ships, and sea creatures, both real and mythical. The interior is covered by mountains that are shaded on the western edges to indicate perpetual sunshine. Place-names are abundant; cape and bay names are from Portuguese and Arab sources. Gastaldi, who was cosmographer to the Republic of Venice, is regarded by many scholars as the greatest cartographer of the Italian school. This map was used as an important source by later 16th and 17th century cartographers, including Ortelius, de Jode, Magini, and Mercator. Eight other copies have been reported to exist over the years, including one in the British Museum and another in the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Il disegno della geografia moderna de tutta la parte dell'Africa


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map ; 108 x 142 centimeters


  • Includes a three-column table comparing contemporary and ancient place names. Map originally on 8 sheets. Bottom left sheet missing from AGS Library copy; missing sheet depicts ocean and sea creatures.

Last updated: March 22, 2016