Fra Mauro’s map of the world – a masterpiece of western cartography, composed around 1450 – has until now never been the subject of a modern study, despite its immense renown. The map has been reproduced and cited in hundreds of books, but the most recent full study was in 1806: Placido Zurla’s Il mappamondo di Fra Mauro. The present book aims at an analysis and an in-depth study of this important document, offering the reader an understanding within its contemporary cultural framework.
The project is the result of collaboration between historians and scholars belonging to two Venetian institutions, the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana – where the map is still preserved – and the Centro Interdisciplinare di Rilievo, Cartografia ed Elaborazione (CIRCE) of Venice's Iuav University. The work is in two parts, a volume of studies and a CD-ROM. The latter contains not only a high-resolution image of the map, but also software for cross consultation of text and image, in order to allow 'navigation' between the map and its inscriptions
Piero Falchetta is curator of maps at the Marciana National Library in Venice.
"Falchetta's long and patient work of transcription and interpretation has accomplished, first, the valuable achievement of making every single part of this complex artifact accessible to scholars and future researchers [...]. The sort of critical-philological approach adopted by Falchetta seems, at the moment, the one best suited to the reading and interpretation of ancient maps."
(L. Nutti, in Isis 99, 2008, p. 169-170)
"The publication of this volume and the accompanying aids should make one of the monuments of European cartography available to a wide audience and allow scholars in many fields to assess the achievements and limitations of geographical knowledge in Europe on the eve of the great voyages of discovery."
(A. M. Stahl, in Speculum 83, 2008, p. 432-433)
"In conclusion, Piero Falchetta's Fra Mauro's World Map should be in any reference library concerned with the history of cartography."
(R. L. Betz, in The Portolan, Journal of the Washington Map Society, Fall 2008, p. 46)
"The in-depth analysis Falchetta has made of every facet of Fra Mauro's world map offers more than a a carto-historical study of a single map: it reveals the true dimensions in terms of geographical and human science of the last important manuscript mappamundi produced before the all-dominant era of Ptolemaïc revival in print."
(W. Bodenstein, in BIMCC Newsletter 31, May 2008, p. 10)
"Le grand mérite de cet ouvrage est avant tout dans la reproduction numérique de la carte et l'édition de toutes les légendes."
(Ch. Gadrat, dans Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes 166, 2008, p. 275)