In 1587, Urbano Monte (1544-1613), a little-known cartographer, created an amazing, hand-drawn, 10 feet by 10 feet map.
Not only does the map depict the Earth as seen from space when directly looking down at the North Pole, but it’s also filled with incredible images of foreign locations and astonishing mythological creatures such as, for example Siberian unicorns, ship-attacking mermen, and terrifying giant birds.
Amazing mythological creatures have always fascinated people, and now we have a chance to view them through the eyes of our ancestors.
This unique world atlas has now been restored and digitally stitched together. Cartographer Monte who was very interested in geography was from a wealthy family in Milan, Italy.
In 1585, he met with a Japanese delegation, and scientists think the map he created is the result of his meeting and stories he heard about Japan. The world atlas contains numerous names within Japan, which don’t appear on other Western maps created at the time.
Collector David Rumsey bought the ancient atlas and donated it to the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford University, which he founded in 2016.
Monte’s map has never been properly studied because studied it’s been hidden for centuries.
Monte created his map 18 years after Gerardus Mercator, the best-known mapmaker of all time, made the map that is used today in most classrooms and smartphone apps.
Mercator’s great contribution to cartography is that he changed its nature with the help of his artistic enhancements and forever altered ocean navigation with his projection method, which was the most influential invention of early cartography.
Monte on the other hand wanted to show the circular nature of the Earth. According to Rumsey, Monte’s work is much more than just a map. “It’s a whole scientific instrument.
Monte’s amazing map has been digitally restored, and you can view all the individual sheets here.