Systema Ideale Pyrophylaciorum Suberraneorum, quorum montes Vulcanii, veluti spiracula quaedam existant.
1665 (undated) 15 x 17 in (38.1 x 43.18 cm)
1 : 26400000
This is one of the 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher's most iconic and graphically intense maps. The map illustrates the interior of the Earth postulates cohesive global volcanic system tied to a fiery core. Situated amidst dense clouds with Aeolus, or wind heads, at the corners, the Earth appears as a gigantic fiery orb. Along the circumference, we can recognize the oceans, mountains, land, and even a few sailing ships. The center of the Earth is a great fire. Beyond the flaming core, artery-like networks of subterranean channels direct the heat of the core to volcanoes on the Earth's surface.
Kircher's Hydro-Volcanic SystemInspired by two weeks of earthquakes in Calabria in 1638, and the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in 1637, Kircher postulated two interacting systems, a volcanic system, as seen here, and a hydrosystem of underground seas and rivers. Kircher hypothesized that the volcanic system was centered in the core of the Earth, but connected via networks of tunnels and certain subterranean focal points, to the surface. The volcanic system interacted with the hydrosystem by superheating parts of it, causing the movement of water to and from the surface – hence ocean currents, earthquakes, tides, and more.
Kircher's ideas may seem quaint to us today, but he was an excellent observer and a great reasoner. His work with currents in particular is revolutionary and among the first serious scientific studies of this phenomenon. He was also correct in surmising the superheated nature of the Earth's core. While his network of underground lakes and rivers connecting to giant reservoirs under mountain rangers was incorrect, his theory did correctly recognize that Earthquakes were caused by the movement of great plates of Earth. And, while his assessment regarding the source of ocean currents was incorrect, his identification of current patters was often accurate.
Publication History and CensusThis map was issued to accompany the 1665 edition of Kircher's Mundus Subterranous. No engraver is attributed on any of Mundus Subterranous maps leading to speculation that they were engraved by Kircher himself.
Athanasius Kircher (c. 1601 - 1680) was a 17th century German Jesuit scholar and one of the most respected and remarkable men of his time. A master of languages, mathematics, science, geography, physics and oriental studies, many consider Kircher to be 'the last true Renaissance man.' Kircher attained almost global fame in his lifetime for his numerous scholarly publications. Indeed, Kircher was the first documented scholar able to fully support himself on his own work, which, in his case, included some forty volumes on diverse fields. As a Catholic in Germany, Kircher was frequently at odds with the rising powers of Protestantism. Consequently, in 1628 he joined the priesthood and after extensive world travels eventually settled in Rome. There he was employed as a Professor of Mathematics and Oriental Languages at the Collegio Romano. Inspired by the eruption of Vesuvius in 1637 and the two weeks of earthquakes that shook Calabria in 1638, Kircher turned his considerable intellect to the natural world. Kircher's research into Geography and Oceanography culminated in the postulation that tides and currents were caused by water moving to and from a great subterranean ocean. Kircher published his geographic work in the important 1664 Mundus Subterranous, which in addition to several world and oceanic charts, included a fascinating map of Atlantis. Kircher is nonetheless, not unimpeachable. One anecdote tells how a rival scholar presented Kircher with a manufactured gibberish manuscript he claimed to be an recently discovered ancient Egyptian text in need of translation. Kircher produced the translation instantly. In addition to his significance as a scholar, Kircher is best known for his invention of the Magic Lantern, precursor to modern cinema. He also founded the Museum Kircherianum in Rome.
Kircher, A., Mundus Subterranous, (Amsterdam) 1665.
Very good. Even overal toning. Slight centerfold wear. Else very clean.