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"This rare map has a special place in the early cartography of Australia" -- Schilder


Fascinating double-page engraved world map, featuring a large landmass in the approximate place and shape of the northwestern coast of Australia, hinting at knowledge of that coast 30 years before its recognized discovery by Europeans. The map is present here in the final volume of the so-called Plantin Polyglot Bible, which ran to eight volumes and had text in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Syriac.

This Bible takes its name from its publisher, Christoph Plantin. Plantin was famously the publisher of Abraham Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), the first modern atlas. Plantin's publishing house was based in Antwerp, which was then in the Spanish Netherlands, and on the fault line of the religious schism between Catholicism and Protestantism. Plantin, who was rumored to harbor Protestant sympathies, was concerned that the Spanish authorities would censure him. In an effort to head-off the government's suspicions, he worked with a Spanish prelate, Benito Arias Montano (Benedictus Arias Montanus), to publish a polyglot bible dedicated to Philip II; it was called: Biblia sacra hebraice chaldaice, graece et latine (known as the Biblia Regia).

The first documented and undisputed European sighting and landing on Australia was in late 1606, by the Dutch navigator Willem Janszoon. However, this and several other 16th-century maps feature a landmass in the approximate place of Australia. These depictions have given rise to speculation that Australia had actually been discovered and reported on much earlier, perhaps by Iberian or French explorers. This map's association with Philip II -- who presumably would have had knowledge of Iberian landings in northern Australia, if they had occurred -- lends further intrigue to the matter.

The primary intention of the map was to illustrate how Noah's three sons repopulated the world.

Outside of Australia, the cartography of the map represents an interesting derivation of Gastaldi, with its prominent Asia-America land bridge.

Physical Description of the Book:

Folio, contemporary vellum covers, rebacked with vellum, ties refreshed.


World map "Benedict Arias Montanus Sacrae Geographiae Tabulam Ex Antiquissimorum... 1571" [second state]; Holy Land map "Tabula Terrae Canaan Abrahae... Benedit ti Ariae Montani."; Holy Land map "Terrae Israel Omnis Ante Canaan Dictae...";

Communes et Familiares Hebraicae Linguae Idiotismi...:A-B6;

Liber Ioseph sive de Aracano Semone... (1572): A-K6, L4;

Liber Ieremiae, sive, de Actione... (1573): a6, b8;

Thubal-Cain, sive, De Mensuris Sacris Liber... (1572): aa6, bb4;

Phaleg, sive, de Genetium Sedibus Primis... (1572): A8;

[Benedicti Ariae Montani Hispalensis in Librum Chanaan...]: A4;

[Benedicti Ariae Montani Hispalensis in Librum Chaleb...]: A8;

Exemplar, Sive, De Sacris Fabricis Liber (1572): A8;

Aaron, Sive, Sanctorum Vestimentorum...: a4;

Daniel, sive, De Seculis Codex Integer... (1572): A4;

[Index Biblicus]: A-C4;

[Hebraea, Chaldaea, Graeca et Latina Nomina Virorum...]: A-E6;

[The Hebrew index]: D4-A (i.e., A-D4, reversed);

[Benedicti Ariae Montani... in Hebracis Libris Lectione...]: [✝4];

[Variam in Graecis...]: A6;

[Candido Lectori Guido Fabr.]: ✝8;

[Illustriss. D. Sirleti S.R.E...]: A6;

[Variae Lectiones In Latinis Bibliis Editionis Vulgatae...]: A-C6.