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Mapping Early Modern Worlds
Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

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Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Theatre of the Whole World

Abraham Ortelius, cartographer, map collector, and businessman, is considered "the father of the atlas." His great work, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum , was published in Antwerp in 1570 and went through many editions in a variety of languages. Conceiving of geography as "the eye of History," necessary for a true understanding of history, Ortelius presented his maps as a "theater of the world," in a format which he hoped would be convenient to those who did not have the room to hang on their walls "those great and large Geographicall maps or Chartes, which are folded or rowl’d up." His project thus both expanded and contracted the world, uncovering new insights into the known and hitherto unknown portions of the globe, while condensing it into the space of a book that could fit on a table and make, as Donne wrote, "one little room an everywhere."



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Abraham Ortelius. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp, 1595

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