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Riaan

Identification of key points on Fra Mauro Map

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I have been studying some ancient maps of Africa and came across the Fra Mauro map (dated ca. 1450 CE, see http://en.wikipedia....i/Fra_Mauro_map), which has some intriguing features as shown below. Most importantly, there appears to be a river the bisects southern Africa.

I have identified some points on this rather disproportionate map – points A to D seem to be relatively straightforward, with B being the mouth of the Congo River. What do you think could F and E be? I can identify two possibilities:

1) E represents Madagascar, but if so, I don’t see any rivers running all the way from the east coast to the west coast.

2) F represents the mouth of the Orange River, which is joined by the Vaal River from the north about midway to the east. E would then be the land enclosed by the Vaal and Orange Rivers from that point onward, the mapmaker possibly believing that both branches ran all the way to the east coast. There are two massive lakes shown south of this bisecting river on the Fra Mauro map – these lakes could represent the now dried up salt pans in the Northern Cape.

Any other ideas?

FraMauro_Africa_Identification.jpg

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I think the map @ left shows a much smaller portion of the tip of S. Africa. A, B, E, and F are surrounded by salt water, not fresh.

Maps of this age are generally limited by the sparse knowledge gained mostly from sailing ships.

Possibly try Google Satellite to search, compare, etc.

Edited by scorpiosonic

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CORRECTION: Possibly, the map shows a much smaller portion of Africa's total coastline....IF this map IS intended to portray the entire continent, the makers did a poor job of it, even considering its early date.

Edited by scorpiosonic

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I hate to state the obvious, but you should find a high-resolution image online or a life-size photograph and read what Fra Mauro /wrote/ to identify the features on the map. That would remove the vast majority of the guesswork.

--Jaylemurph

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I hate to state the obvious, but you should find a high-resolution image online or a life-size photograph and read what Fra Mauro /wrote/ to identify the features on the map. That would remove the vast majority of the guesswork.

--Jaylemurph

Thanks for the advice - it would indeed seem obvious, but the text on the highest resolution image I could find is too small to be interpreted (Wikipedia).

However, there appears to be a book which presents a translation of the text (a bit pricey, though):

Fra Mauro's Map of the World: With a Commentary and Translations of the Inscriptions

Amazon

Edited by Riaan

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Thanks, EL.....now if I could only read Latin. :cry:

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The bodies of water on the island are not named on the map, but the island is explicitly named Diab, the old Arab name for the Cape of Good Hope. It also features the city named Soffala, which is actually in Mozambique. It looks like Mauro was trying to apply names he knew to areas for which there was not much information. Again, I'm not sure there's much point in tying real places to the things represented on the extremities of this map.

--Jaylemurph

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