Polar Paleo-Futures

Septentrionalium Terraum descripto, a map of the North Pole (or rather, North Archipelago) by Gerardus Mercator (I took a picture from the book New Worlds: Maps from the Age of Discovery I bought during recent X-mass sales). Mercator had to rely, almost entirely, on the maps and stories gathered by other travelers, so his maps is more a reflection of cultural zeitgeist of the times, and as such also a projections into the future. Few quotes from the book:

“Mercator produced the first separate printed map of the Arctic Circle, with the North Pole surrounded by four large islands. At the center of the pole is a giant whirlpool fed by four rivers, the whirlpool sucking the oceans of the earth to the pole and then in an abyss, from where the water would re-emerge as the many rivers of the world starting the circle again”.

Which means that it was not only a geographic map in our pure sense, but rather a statement about the world mechanics, the way how the earth, the skies and the water work together, and a very bold one. I wonder what can be a simplistic way of obtaining a different, less mystical and more accurate, closer to contemporary, a worldview. Some sort of film, like a bovine intestine, oiled, covered by mud, and then filled by hot air?

What are the simplistic tools/experiments to shake our overconfidence about the futures as we see them from now?

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2 Responses to Polar Paleo-Futures

  1. frank michel says:

    In reference to your picture of “Polar Paleo-Futures” from a map of the North Pole by Gerardus Mercator> Could you please tell me what year this map is from??

    It’s almost too beautiful to believe>>>

    • centralasian says:

      The book attributes the map to Gerard Mercator and says it was published in his Atlas (assumingly Theatrum Orbis Terrarum) in 1595. It’s a bit strange because Mercator died in 1594 (although he could work on the plate earlier and indeed published on the post-humous editions).

      According to the book, Mercator was the first who printed this map of Arctic as a separate plate, but the ideas that the North Pole is surrounded by four islands had been widely spread back then, and there were a few similar maps produced.

      For example, there is a map by Cornelis de Jodi depicting both North and South poles on one plate (you can see it here) with the North Pole looking similar to the Mercator’s map. De Jodi’s maps was published circa 1593.

      I also uploaded a picture of the Mercator’s map – please see it here.

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