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Upside Down Africa by Ramusio

Nice example of Ramusio's (Mezzo Di) map of Africa (extending south to the Tropic of Capricorn and Madagascar).

Giovanni Baptista Ramusio was Secretary to the Council of Ten in Venice for 43 years. His collection of reports on voyages is among the most important works of the period.

This map appeared in the second volume of Ramusio's Della Navigationi et Viaggi, a 3 volume work that was commenced in 1554, although this map, from volume 2, was not completed until 1559.

The map shows North at the bottom of the map and is centered on the course of the Nile, which has its primary source in two lakes in Southern Africa. The map extends south to the Tropic of Capricorn and Isola Di S. Lorenzo (Madagascar). The Saudi Peninsula, Red Sea and Gulf of Aden are also shown, as is Mecca.

Curiously, the map is not referenced in either Tooley or Norwich.

Giovanni Battista Ramusio Biography

Giovanni Battista Ramusio (1485-1557) was an Italian geographer who worked within the Venetian Empire. His father had been a magistrate and he himself served as a civil servant to Venice. He served throughout Europe, allowing him to build up a network of informants and a collection of travel materials. He compiled this information into his enduring masterpiece, Navigationi et Viaggi, in 1550 (first volume) and 1556 (third volume). The second volume appeared after his death in 1559, as the original manuscript had been destroyed by a fire.