Tabula Peutingeriana

Tabula Peutingeriana section

Olivier Ruellet blogs about the Tabula Peutingeriana (in French), which is as good an excuse as any to revisit this unusual medieval artifact. Inherited by Konrad Peutinger in 1508, the Tabula was a medieval copy of a fourth- or fifth-century map of the Roman road network. Calling it a map, though, may be a bit contentious: combined, its 11 sheets form an image 682 centimetres long and 34 centimetres wide (1:20 aspect ratio), running from Spain to India, with geographical shapes distorted beyond all proportions — bodies of water are elongated and narrow. (The section above runs from southern Italy to Syria: can you make out what’s what?) But the distance marks along each road are generally proportional; it’s been compared more than once to a diagrammatic subway map.

Though the physical map is so fragile that putting it on display for a single day generated headlines, the Tabula Peutingeriana can be viewed in its entirety online here as well as here — the latter page also offering a map showing what each sheet covers. Here’s an article about the Tabula by Jona Lendering. Of course, there is always the inevitable Wikipedia entry.

Previously: Tabula Peutingeriana: One Day Only.