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Very Early Map Showing The Edge Of The Roman World

Sri Lanka / Sumatra. FRIES, L. / WALDSEEMULLER, M. [Strasbourg, 1525]
Untitled. 11 x 14 inches.
Fine hand color; few filled marginal wormholes, else excellent.


The scarce second issue, with rich, lapis blue coloring. Taprobana (Sri Lanka) was by far the smallest area to have its own map in the Ptolemaic canon. In the Roman period from which the Ptolemaic geography dates, Taprobana was thought to be at the extreme eastern part of the world. It therefore marked an end point of geographic knowledge, hence meriting its own map. Until clarified by European exploration later in the 16th century, there was uncertainty among European geographers as to whether Taprobana was actually Sri Lanka or Sumatra. Its disproportionate size on Ptolemaic maps may have contributed to the confusion.

cf. Suarez, Southeast Asia, pp. 100-01.

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