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Fine, Rare Italian Map of the Holy Land

Early map of the Holy Land, published in Rome by Antonio Salamanca.

Perhaps the most notable details are the extensive historical notes woven in by Salamanca throughout the map.

The map is east-oriented; it shows Palestine at the top with the Mediterranean Sea at the bottom. Dotted lines denote the Tribes of Israel. The Dead Sea (Mare Mortuum Sive Sodomorum) is distorted and elongated. Finely-wrought mountains, trees, and ripples in the water lend an attractive aesthetic richness.

The map draws upon Pietro Vesconte's map of the Holy Land. Vesconte's map, in its earliest form, survives in a ca. 1320 manuscript work by Marino Sanudo. The Vesconte map is the single most important map of the Holy Land of the late Medieval and early modern eras. The Vesconte-Sanudo map formed the basis for all of the early "tabulae moderna" (“new maps,” meaning post-Ptolemaic worldview mappings) of the Holy Land made during the first decades of printing. Around 1480, the cartographer Nicolaus Germanus created a map of the Holy Land which was derived from the Vesconte map, but which contained notable revisions. Germanus' map was published in both Francesco Berlinghieri's edition of Ptolemy's Geographia (Rome, 1482) and Lienhart Holle's edition of Ptolemy (Ulm, 1482).   

Maps of the Holy Land were particularly popular in the early modern era. In the wake of the Crusades and scholasticism, and aided by the invention of print, a large audience was eager to visualize Biblical events and locations. Additionally, many scholars used Holy Land maps to try and solve mysteries, such as the precise site of certain stories. As Bartlett explains, the purpose of this map was the meet the needs of “biblical readers and pilgrims to the Holy Land, rather than to present contemporary geography and topography.”

The present map follows the Vesconte-Germanus tradition.


The map is extremely rare on the market. We note a single example at auction (Christies, 2006) and no example in dealer catalogs in the past thirty years.

Condition Description
Minor soiling.
Laor 680; Bifolco-Ronca 185; John R. Bartlett, Mapping Jordan Through Two Millennia (Routledge, 2017). KAP
Antonio Salamanca Biography

Antonio Salamanca was a print seller and publisher based in Rome. While he was known by the surname Salamanca, his family name was actually Martinez; he hailed from Salamanca, Spain. His shop was in the Campo de’ Fiori and it served as a gathering place for those with antiquarian interests. Later in his career, he partnered with Antonio Lafreri, the era’ most prominent Italian map publisher. Salamanca’s stock was sold to Lafreri after the former’s death.