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    Exploring all aspects of mapping and geography, from field data collection, to mapping and analysis, to integration, applications development, enterprise architecture and policy

Tabula Peutingeriana

Posted by Dave Smith On 12/04/2007 12:59:00 PM 1 comments

Along the historic maps vein, another ancient map receiving a lot of press of late is the Tabula Peutingeriana - this one I find tremendously fascinating, being a view of the Roman world of nearly 2000 years ago. As a kid, I grew up in Germany, near Roman ruins of the Limes Germanicus and other features, and as such, I have always been fascinated with all things ancient.

Presently, the Tabula Peutingeriana is being added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register as an important artifact, and, given its extreme fragility, was recently placed on public display for one day in Vienna on November 26th.

The Tabula Peutingeriana is a copy of a Roman cursus publicus, which was a schematic roadmap of roads, cities and other features as developed and used in the Roman Empire. There are no longer any known copies of the original Roman cursus publicus charts, however the Tabula Peutingeriana is believed to have been transcribed from an original one by a thirteenth-century monk in Colmar, and consists of a number of sheets with schematic diagrams showing stops along routes, very similar to a modern-day subway map.

As such, it displaces many features to fit the route rather than attempting to be cartographically correct, and as such, it does not represent latitude and longitude in a conventional sense - instead accomodating the routes and features along them first and foremost, resulting in a very long, skinny map generally oriented west to east.

The geographic extent of the map is staggering, spanning the British Isles to India and Sri Lanka, showing what would have been trade and military routes, the infrastructure and cultural exchange that would have gone on in Roman times.

One of the things that I was playing around with over the weekend is trying to match up features as shown on the Tabula Peutingeriana to modern features - one of the tools I was playing around with is Microsoft Research's MapCruncher for Virtual Earth:

While I wouldn't expect MapCruncher to be able to rubbersheet a schematic map such as the Tabula Peutingeriana to a conventional map, it has nonetheless given me many insights just in being able to match up ancient designations and routes to their modern counterparts in a managed fashion, and it has made for a fun rainy (or snowy, as the case may be) day project.

1 Response for the " Tabula Peutingeriana "

  1. How do you put the tabula in your mapcruncher? Tank you