Category: Marco Polo (page 1 of 7)

Marco Polo Map Comparison

Unsurprisingly, it was extremely difficult to map out the locations that Marco Polo had traveled to on the medieval map. On the modern map, it is much easier to visualize the distance that Polo had traveled, but due to the lack of labeling, or at least its visibility that the online version of the map had, it was hard to determine the route of his journey, therefore I was only able to determine the general region of the Middle East.

The Ebstorf Mappa Mundi goes into great depth of the mythological figures that were thought to be present in the world at the time, which contrasts the modern maps that are featured today. In seems to be that medieval maps, like that of the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi, were less fixated on accuracy, but more so a communication of culture, due to the lack of knowledge that the time had of the world. This goes along with the inclusion and focus on Christianity within the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi. Depicted in the medieval map is an image of Jesus embracing the world, with his head, hands, and feet, along with the inclusion of the Garden of Eden. The Ebstorf Mappa Mundi illustrates the key theme of religion that seem to reign during this time period, as the contents of the map are skewed in a Christian direction, as seen in having Jerusalem in the center of the map. There is no indication of any religious or political influence for the modern map, it simply consists of the geographic types of lands and the locations of countries, seas, etc.

I am very uncertain in the placement of the region in which I believe the Middle East is located, because even though the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi includes landmarks that were mentioned in Polo’s account, it was extremely difficult to read the tiny lettering of cities on the map, which is what I had to look for. I could only make out Sicily and India, and the general areas of Europe and Asia and Africa based on how T-O maps function. Since the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi is a T-O map, the direction and perspective is completely different to that of the modern day, as East is point towards the top, which helped in determining this. Due to the inaccuracies of the mappa mundi, it is hard to fully grasp the extreme distances that Polo traveled on this journey, which places less importance on the strife that he and other travelers had to deal with.

Finally, as previously mentioned, the Ebstorf Mappa Mundi, does a great job in illustrating culture, especially that of European origins, since it displays myths, landmarks, and religious inclusions that could assist individuals, like Marco Polo, in grasping the significance of certain locations and historical understandings to a specific region and community of people. The Ebstorf Mappa Mundi also assisted in sharing certain narratives about place and people within the world, since it had the ability to make judgements, such as dog-headed people living in a certain area, which caused these narratives to proliferate and thrive within the communities in Europe, but also reach other areas in the world.

Marco Polo Medieval Map

Marco Polo Modern Map

Ayas (Yumurtalik), Ezrincan, Mosul, Baghdad, Tabriz, Kala Atashparastan (Kashan), Kerman, Hormuz, Kuh-banan, Mulehet (Alamut). 

Medieval Map Assignment : The Travels of Marco Polo

Comparison between the medieval map, the Tabula Rogeriana, and the modern map, Google Maps, reveals the stark differences between the two maps that highlight the inaccuracies in the Tabula Rogeriana. The Tabula Rogeriana misinterprets much of the sizes of many bodies of water in and around the Eurasian continent. For example, on the Tabula Rogeriana, what I assuming to be the representation of the Black Sea is drawn to connect to a larger body of water that is connected to the ocean by a strait of water that goes through Northern Europe. On the Google Maps, there is no strait of water that goes through the top of the continent, though there is an ocean above the entire continent. The Black Sea does not connect to the ocean above Europe, thus revealing that travelers during this time period had yet to travel to the Northern areas of Eastern Europe and Asia and assumed the region to be just water. In addition to the areas travelers mainly had yet to venture to, most of the Mongol region in this medieval map is depicted as large bodies of water, revealing another region that most travelers had not yet reached or been able to explore and did not know of his existence. Given the Mongol region seems to be mainly untouched by other travelers, Polo presumably thought he had traveled into most of Asia because the borders of the Mongol Empire align with the Tabula Rogeriana’s drawn ending of the continent. However, though the sizes are inaccurate, the general locations of the bodies of water in the Middle East are fairly accurate. Though farther West and East the bodies of water tend to represent regions that have yet to be traveled to by Western travelers, such as Marco Polo. 

Another difference worthy of note between the two maps is the drawing of the Eurasian continent. The shape of the mainland and those islands scattered within the other bodies of water within the continent on the medieval map do not match that of the modern map. The Tabula Rogeriana’s western region beyond the particular route of Marco Polo in this map excludes all of Africa and its drawing of Europe does not match the modern map’s Europe. Europe on the modern map is drawn in the shape of a dragon head with smaller regions underneath and long stretches that reach the area of this particular travel of Polo’s. The medieval map’s western region, immediately west of Polo’s depicted route, shows the shape of Spain’s country, which matches that of the modern map. Essentially, using the modern map as a template, the medieval map depicts Spain as the entire shape of the European continent which then feeds immediately into the Middle East, the location of Polo’s route. The end of Polo’s route exemplifies where medieval travelers knew to be the edges of Asia, which upon reviewing the modern map, was the center of the Middle East. Further, it seems medieval travelers assumed the Middle East was significantly closer to Europe than it was. The regions that are assumably Europe and the Middle East are drawn to be very close to each other with not much region in between, also suggesting they did also did not know the actual size of Europe as all of the modern map’s Northern Europe is not pictured on the medieval map.

Medieval Map: Tabula Rogeriana: The Travels of Marco Polo

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