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Like most people, I have a ridiculously large collection of bookmarks saved in my browser of choice (Firefox, if you care). To be honest, a noteworthy amount of them are sites that are rarely visited (some only once), but that contain something that is just too damned interesting and/or useful.
Among my large collection, however, there are a number that compose my Usual Haunts. You know – the half-dozen or so sites that I visit pretty much every day. Strange Maps (always entertaining and informative) is one such site, and I suggest you add it to your list of usual haunts (if it isn’t already on it). Anyway, today I visited Strange Maps and encountered this post, about Athanasius Kircher, and a map he drew of Atlantis:
(Do visit the post linked above. It includes the original image, depicting the entirety of the page from which this map was clipped. It’s in Latin, but a translation can be found in the comments. The comments at Strange Maps are always worth reading.)
You’ll notice that Kircher’s map is ‘upside-down’ by today’s standards. This is a relative thing, of course. The convention of upward=northward is a fairly young one.
Anyway, I had some time on my hands (a very rare commodity these days), so I thought I’d have some fun. Using GIMP, I clipped and rotated Kircher’s map, then laid it over an image saved from Google Earth, just to see what I would see:
Holy crap! I found Atlantis!
Alright. But still – it looks cool. And if any adventurous divers find anything in the area, I’d appreciate a nominal finder’s fee (the undersea landforms in the southern peninsula look especially promising for vast treasures and ancient mysteries).
I think the most remarkable thing about this map, though, is what it tells us about Kircher’s geographic awareness and cartographic skill. Look closely, and you’ll see that he did a fine job of placing Mount Pico. His knowledge of landforms west of Atlantis needed some work, but I’m willing to forgive him. It was the 17th century, after all.