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1603 Ortelius Map of the Holy Land

Palestinae Sive Totius Terrae Promissionis Nova Descriptio Auctore Tilemanno Stella Sigenensi. - Main View

1603 Ortelius Map of the Holy Land


Striking Ortelius map of the Holy Land.



Palestinae Sive Totius Terrae Promissionis Nova Descriptio Auctore Tilemanno Stella Sigenensi.
  1603 (undated)     14.5 x 18.5 in (36.83 x 46.99 cm)     1 : 500000


This is an old color 1603 Abraham Ortelius map of Palestine or the Holy Land. The map covers from the ancient city of Berytus (Beirut, Lebanon) to the Red Sea and from the Nile River to Damascus (Syria). The map shows the route taken by the wandering Hebrews after the Exodus from Egypt across the Red Sea. The Dead Sea is anomalously depicted in crescent form. A baroque title cartouche sits at the lower-left with a scale underneath. At the upper-right, another decorative cartouche contains a text which describes the area. There are three ships in the Mediterranean, one of which appears to be towing a skiff.

Cartographically, this map is derived from the work of Tileman Stella, an earlier German mapmaker. In contrast to much of Ortelius' other work, which emphasizes the most recent information, his Palestinae Sive Totius is more of a historical map and the geography, spiritual. For Ortelius, who was devout, Old Testament geography was sacred, and no amount of historical or empirical evidence could change what was divine.

This map was printed in 300 copes to accompany the 1603 Latin edition of Ortelius' iconic atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.


Abraham Ortelius (1527 - 1598) was one of the most important figures in the history of cartography and is most famously credited with the compilation of the seminal 1570 atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, generally considered to be the world's first modern atlas. Ortelius was born in Antwerp and began his cartographic career in 1547 as a typesetter for the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. In this role Ortelius traveled extensively through Europe where he came into contact with Mercator, under whose influence, he marketed himself as a "scientific geographer". In this course of his long career he published numerous important maps as well as issued several updated editions of his cardinal work, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Late in his career Ortelius was appointed Royal Cartographer to King Phillip II of Spain. On his death in July fourth, 1598, Ortelius' body was buried in St Michael's Præmonstratensian Abbey , Antwerp, where his tombstone reads, Quietis cultor sine lite, uxore, prole. Learn More...


Ortelius, A., Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, (Amsterdam) 1603.    


Good. Old color partially oxidized with slight loss. Backed on archival tissue.


MacLean, Gerald and Matar, Nabil, Britain and the Islamic World, 1558-1773, (Oxford) 2011, 170-71. OCLC 758543405. Laor, E., Maps of the Holy Land: Cartobibliography of Printed Maps, 1475 - 1900, #538B.