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Subsequently, from the eighth through to the beginning of the twelfth century there appears to have been a dramatic increase in map production. It began with the revival of learning in the reign of Charlemagne. The newly crowned Roman emperor apparently commissioned a large world map, probably never completed and now lost. As in other aspects of culture, in cartography the Carolingians served as preservers of various aspects of late classical thinking and practice. 11 That association of finding the date of the most 22 Ships on Maps important Christian festival with making maps continued into the high Middle Ages.

Hipparchus (second century BCE) and Ptolemy passed on his theory and it reached medieval textbooks through late classical writers, especially Macrobius (fl. c. 430) and Martianus Capella (fl. 410–39). The former put a zonal map in his commentary on Cicero’s Dream of Scipio and it was through that book illustration that medieval readers and map makers came to know about the five zones Mapping before the Renaissance 27 with frigid and uninhabitable polar zones, two temperate zones, and a torrid zone around the equator between the two temperate ones.

The goal was, among other things, to put the history into some geographical framework, to give it more immediacy and possibly make it easier to remember. 32 The map was based in part on earlier itineraries and the prominence of two Alpine passes among other indications suggests the goal was to point out major pilgrimage routes to Santiago da Compostela, Rome and ultimately to the Holy Land. 33 Though the typically greater survival rate of medieval materials in England does prejudice any effort to weigh relative importance still it does seem that there was a special interest in map making and especially in the production of world maps in the kingdom in the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

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