Sylvanus' map of region west of the Black Sea, north of the Aegean Sea and east of the Adriatic is one of the earliest obtainable maps of the region and the earliest printed in two colors.
The map includes the regions which includes parts of Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia.
The map appeared in Bernardus Sylvanus's Claudii Ptholemaei Alexandrini liber Geographicae . . ., published by Jacobus Pentius de Leucho in Venice in 1511. Sylvanus recognized that the geography shown in prior works was out-dated, attempted to update the maps by inserting more modern information, often from contemporary manuscript sources, which he super-imposed over the Ptolemaic material, creating an unusual effect. An innovative feature is that the maps, which are printed from woodblocks, are printed in two colours, red and black, with the principal names in red. In addition to the Ptolemaic set, Sylvanus also included a modern map of the World, on a cordiform, or heart-shaped projection. Visible along the western border are eastern South America, Cuba and Hispaniola, and the tip of Labrador or Newfoundland.
The net result of Sylvanus' innovations is one of the earliest variations for the presentation of topographical details on a printed map.
Bernardus Sylvanus (Bernardo Silvano) was born around 1465 in Eboli, a small agricultural town near Salerno in southern Italy. He began studying Ptolemy around 1490, when he was living in Naples. At this time he ran a print shop or studio, producing maps and codices. It was here that he produced his first edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia in 1490, which he dedicated to Andrea Matteo Acquaviva, the third Duke of Atri. For this edition Sylvanus used coordinates and text from Jacopo d’Angelo’s translation, and copied the maps from a Roman printed edition of either 1478 or 1490 (both printed from the same plates). Sylvanus’ 1511 Venice edition of the Geographia built on his prior work, but was groundbreaking in several regards. It was the only edition to add modern updates directly into Ptolemy’s maps, the only edition at the time to print maps on both sides of the leaf, the first edition printed in two colors, and the first Italian edition to use woodblocks. Nothing is known of Sylvanus’ life after the publication of this edition.