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Modern Medieval Map Myths: The Flat World, Ancient Sea-Kings, and Dragons

Modern Medieval Map Myths: The Flat World, Ancient Sea-Kings, and Dragons

By Michael Livingston

Published online at Strange Horizons

Synopsis: Examines modern myths related to medieval maps, including the notion that ancient mariners charted the coastline of Antarctica in the far distant past, and the idea that medieval maps typically marked the edge of the known world with the caption “Here There Be Dragons (or Tygers, or Monsters).” Pointing out what medieval maps are not, therefore, is the primary point of what you are about to read.  Another purpose of this article, however, is to talk about what medieval maps really are. I view this as an essential task, since I cannot convey to you the complexity of medieval cartography without defining the terms involved and showing you a few medieval maps. And I trust that I am not vain if I hope to spur your interest in the Middle Ages along the way.

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