Mediterranean Sea Region 1569


This portolan chart by the prominent Italian cartographer and engraver Paolo Forlani is the first sea chart engraved and printed on copperplate. Forlani was born in Verona but flourished in Venice in 1560–74. Most of his maps appeared under the imprint of other publishers, including Giovanni Francesco Camocio, Ferrando Bertelli, and Bolognini Zaltieri in Venice and Claudio Duchetti in Rome―members of the Lafreri school of cartography, some of whose printing plates were still used well into the 17th century. Nominally a map of the Mediterranean Sea region, the map extends as far west as Ireland and north to much of Russia and the Black Sea (labeled as Mare Maggiore). The word portolan derives from portolano, meaning “related to ports or harbors.” Portolan charts were often simple coastal outlines used in navigation with few, if any, inland features shown. The straight lines crisscrossing the chart represent the 32 directions, or headings, of the mariner’s compass from a given point. Coastal place-names are written on the land side of the coastline so as not to obscure possible maritime dangers. Areas of political control are indicated by different colors along the coastline and in some cases by shading of the interior.

Last updated: March 21, 2016