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World Map after Macrobius

World Map after Macrobius

The Ancient Greeks conceived the idea of a southern landmass to counterbalance the land in the north. Aristotle named this imagined southern land ‘Antarktikos’, as the northern lands lay under the constellation of ‘Arktos’ (the bear). The ‘Climatic’ or ‘zonal’ map, which divided the world into five climate zones, was also developed in this classical period. In these simple maps the world was divided into five equal parts. Cold zones in the north and south were separated by temperate zones and an equatorial zone so hot that it was impassable. This is the earliest example of a zonal map in the Library’s collection and is by Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, a fifth-century Roman philosopher. In this version, published in 1492, Europe, Africa and Asia are shown in the upper hemisphere. The vast southern continent lies in the lower hemisphere. An ocean called Alveus separates the continents.