This is one of the 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher's most iconic and graphically intense maps. Situated amidst dense clouds with Aeolus, or wind heads, at the corners, the Earth appears as a gigantic fiery orb. Around the perimeter, we can recognize the oceans, mountains, land, whirlpools, and even a few sailing ships. The center of the Earth is a great fire. Beyond the flaming core, artery-like networks of subterranean seas and rivers connect great reservoirs hidden under mighty mountains.
Kircher's Hydro-Volcanic System
Inspired by two weeks of earthquakes in Calabria in 1638, and the volcanic eruption of Vesuvius in 1637, Kircher postulated subterranean seas that created currents, earthquakes, and tides by entering and exiting through an extensive network of tunnels and abysses. This map, more than any other, fully illustrates these theories.
Kirtcher quotes the Jesuit priest Peter Paez in describing such features,
On the 21st April in the year 1618, being there with the King and his army, I ascended the place and observed everything with great attention: I discovered first two round fountain each bout four palms in diameter, and saw with the greatest delight what neither Cyrus, the King of the Persians, or Cambysis, nor Alexander the Great, nor the famous Julius Caesar could ever discover. The two openings of these fountains have no issue in the plain on top of the mountain but flow from the root of it. The second fountain lies about a stone-cast west from the first: the inhabitants say that this whole mountain is full of water and add that the whole plain about the fountain is floating and unsteady, a certain mark that there is water concealed under it.
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 the ocean currents was incorrect, his identification of current patters was often accurate.
Publication History and Census
This 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.