Venetian Cartography – Progress Blog 1

With the Venetian Cartography project we wish to analyze the evolution of mapping techniques starting from the Medieval Period up to the Modern Era, as well as changes the environment has undergone over the time. There are many aspects that differentiate mapping at various times. By analyzing works of prominent cartographers in a timeline fashion, we will be able to find significant changes in the mapmaking process such as cartography techniques, technical skills available, as well as environmental changes. We will thus be able to provide data models and visualizations of geographic representations of past and present.

Following the milestones of our project, we have conducted further research on Venetian cartography and cartographers. A few of the significant figures are: Benedetto Bordone, astrologer and cartographer, who published a book containing 111 woodcut maps, some of which depict Venice at that time. Others are: Vincenzo Coronelli (1650 – 1718), Giacomo Gastaldi (1500 – 1565), Fra Mauro, Thomaso Porcacchi (1530 – 1585), Sebastian Munster, Matthäus Merian, Karl Ferdinand Weiland, and many others.

We have acquired more than thirty maps from different times in history. The furthest back we will start with maps from around ~1500, and such an example is a mapping of Venice authored by Benedetto Bordone, dating from 1528.

Venice Map by Benedetto Bordone, 1528
Venice Map by Benedetto Bordone, 1528

Another map example that goes back in time is a map from 1560, by Sebastian Munster. Our current collection includes maps from different centuries, such as maps from 1641 by Matthaus Mertian[4], from 1752 by Homann Erben[5], from 1834 by Bertoja[6] and many more available from the 20th and 21st century. Also, more resources [2][7][8] are presented in the references section.

Venice Map by Matthäus Merian, 1641
Venice Map by Matthäus Merian, 1641

We will use the Geographic Information System (GIS) to create a time lapse of Venice maps from the Middle Ages up to today. After we have acquired the data, we realize that not all maps are exact representations of the real world. For instance, early maps depicted small areas, that were not necessarily completely accurate, or only distances between various points of interest are accurate, and also focused on depicting various building and ships, rather than give an accurate geospatial representation. Given this, errors of accuracy and precision can still occur.

We have decided to use the Quantum GIS [3] open source software to georeference the acquired Venice maps, and make it feasible in this way to overlap geographic coordinates on different maps. This process of data modelling using GIS is still in progress, following our proposed milestones.

Our current milestones:

  • –   [complete] Further research about Venice and Venetian cartographers (2 weeks)
  • –   [partially complete, as we wish to obtain further maps] Data acquisition (2 weeks)
  • –   [started] QGIS software (1 week)
  • –   Data modeling and visualization (3 weeks)
  • –   Analysis development (3 weeks)
  • –   Conclusion and suggestions for future work (1 week)