The Map At The Bottom Of The World (cont.)
By Doug Fisher
Figure 8 - Facsimile of Schöner’s 1520 globe, which shares the same West African coastline (lower left) as his 1515 globe, but offers a much more accurate representation of the country of Spain.
Comparing this portion of land with the actual Iberian Peninsula (Fig. 9) the similarities are quite apparent. In both depictions the peninsula appears as though it were nearly pinched off at the border with France. This ‘pinch’ is composed of a smoother coastline along the interior Mediterranean Sea and a deeply notched, squarish coastline on the outer Atlantic side forming the Bay of Biscay. Even more telling is the large distinctive point of land at the extreme end of the peninsula corresponding to the southwestern most tip of Portugal where the town of Sagres is located. The 1515 map appears to have a narrower needlelike depiction of this point extending into the Mediterranean Sea, but the 1520 version is much more accurate and correctly depicts the point as straddled by two smaller points. The point lying more toward the outer Atlantic being the location of Lisbon, Portugal, and the point lying on the Mediterranean side being the location of Gibraltar. The 1520 globe not only mimics these features very well, but also accurately depicts the point corresponding to Gibraltar as lying directly across from the nearest point in Africa approximating the constrictive nature of the Strait of Gibraltar.
Figure 9 - Spain as depicted on Schöner’s 1520 Antarctic map with borders added for comparative purposes (left) alongside Modern day Spain (right). The key similarities lie in the accurate portrayal of the Bay of Biscay, and in the three points of land where Lisbon, Sagres, and Gibraltar are located.
Returning to Schöner’s 1515 globe and the pair of peninsulas, the map accurately portrays the two lone adjacent peninsulas as isolated along the northern coast of the Mediterranean with the thin rectangular peninsula directly to the west of a shorter stubbier peninsula providing a fairly compelling representation of the Italian and Greek peninsulas. The depiction of the Italian peninsula even details two opposing promontories extending off its farthest extremity fashioning a rather primitive version of the toe and heel of the signature ‘Boot of Italy’ (Fig. 10).
Figure 10 - Italy as depicted on Schöner’s 1515 Antarctic map (left) alongside modern-day Italy. Like modern-day Italy, Schöner depicts the continent as a narrow rectangular shaped peninsula with two promontories extending off the bottom two corners.
The Greek peninsula is rendered in a rather primitive fashion as well, yet is detailed sufficiently so as to define a key area of the country: the location of Athens. Athens is located midway down a narrow strip of land extending eastward off of the main trunk (Fig. 11). Alongside the site of Athens is a small narrow nub of land jutting back toward the west. On Schöner's map this small feature terminates abruptly where it normally forms the Corinthian Isthmus that connects to the rather large Peloponnesus Peninsula. This omission could be attributed to many factors, among them the poor condition of the source map or simply an oversight by an ancient cartographer or copyist.
Figure 11 - Greece as depicted on Schöner’s 1515 Antarctic map (left) alongside modern day Greece. Schöner’s map lacks detail similar to most ancient maps, but demonstrates the importance of Athens by accurately rendering the area surrounding the Greek capital.