V. 1 (2022)

A Cosmogram of Its Time - A Conceptual Analysis of the Catalan Atlas

Pubblicato 21-10-2022

Parole chiave

  • Medieval maps, Cosmogram, Catalan Atlas, Peutinger Tabula, Codicology, Art history


This article aims to evaluate the role of maps in the Middle Ages and to assess whether they should be understood uniquely as antique geographical tools or, rather, as important historic records of a certain-time culture. Thus, the concept of cosmogram is applied to a specific case-study, the medieval portolan chart known as Catalan Atlas. The paper challenges what makes a map a complete and tangible representation of the understanding of the world at a specific moment, as opposed to a “simple” instrument to navigate the physical environment. In addition, the whole concept of medieval maps being just orientational aids will be put under pressure, comparing the Catalan Atlas with another medieval map, the Peutinger Tabula. Ultimately, it demonstrates that any map, even a contemporary one, always presents a degree of interpretation in the way it may mirror the historic context in which it was produced.