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A Rare 16th Century Synthesis of Ancient and Renaissance Greek Cartography

Finely engraved and extremely rare "New Description of All Greece and the Adjoining Lands," by George Achatz von Enenckel.

The map extends from Sicily, Malta, and Southern Italy, to Crete and the western part of Asia Minor, with Greece being divided into various sub-regions.

To create the map, Enenckel  undertook a comprehensive study of available sources, requiring a deep dive into both historical and contemporary sources. Enenckel used writings from ancient scholars like Thucydides, Herodotus, Xenophon, and Diodorus to add historical context and accuracy to his map. These sources offered him a detailed understanding of ancient Greece's geography and its changing landscape over centuries.

However, Enenckel was also concerned by the limitations of some previous geographical works, most notably those of Claudius Ptolemy, the famed Alexandrian polymath and geographer. Enenckel was concerned by Ptolemy's limited number of cities and other observations and his inconsistencies with other historians and geographers. Despite these criticisms, Enenckel didn't disregard Ptolemy's works entirely, acknowledging their importance as a base of ancient geographical knowledge.

Moreover, he also drew upon the works of Strabo, an ancient Greek geographer, and other contemporary geographers. He found the descriptions provided by these recent scholars more consistent with the ancient landmarks and structures he was familiar with. This mix of ancient texts and modern geography allowed Enenckel to create a well-rounded representation of the region.

Enenckel's map is the result of careful cross-referencing of multiple sources, offering a balanced view of the geographical understanding of his time. His main goal was to create a tool for studying history and geography, rather than producing a definitive map of the area. The map thus stands as a significant achievement in 16th-century cartography, demonstrating a thoughtful combination of historical understanding and geographical representation.

The Latin text transcribes and translates as follows:

Terrarum omnium, quas immenfo amplexu vtring, finit Oceanus,vetuftifsimam penè nobilifsimama,vel fama rerum geftarum, vel commendatione humanitatis doctrinarumq, GRACIAM, ad Thucydidis primo, tum Herodoti quoq, Xenophontis, Diodori, aliorumq, fcriptorum lectionem illuftrandam juvandama, defcrip: turus:cum neq, ipfe eas regiones oculis perluftrafem, neq, altum qui per fe comperta fingula edifßereret habere potuißem: Geographis fimul recentibus veteribufq, fimul. hiftoricis prifcis, et utring, derivatis con, jecturis, auctoribus ftandum judicavi. Ptolemæum vero, cujus hodie in manibus eft defcriptio vetus, haudquaquam in æquo cæteris auctorem habui: non folum quod vix dimidiam oppidorum, que apud fcriptores leguntur, partem fuppeditat, fed et quod ab alijs tam Geographis quam Hiftoricis perfæpè (quod multis exemplis notari poteft) difcrepat. Ad hæc aliquot atatibus Thucydidem fecutus, Græcia jam multis in partibus mutatam faciem difsimilema, antiquiori illi et florenti regioni defcriptionem, ac ideò haud fatis aptam id temporis fcriptorum lectioni, præbet. Ego proinde cum novam Thucydi dis emitterem converfionem, præter Annotationes in eum auctorem perpetuas, Chronologiam et Cho rographiam lumina duo hiftoriarum, adijcere tentavi. Cæterum ratus, ut alias Mathematice partes, fic iftam hodie cultam magis magifq, certam haberi, nec noftros Geographos tantum ab Ptolemæo difcefuros fuiße, ni certa experientia eos adverfari coegifset: recentiorum defcriptiones, quas magis prifcorum monumentis congruere animadverti, fequi tutius judicavi; eo adhibito modo, ut alios fimul vete. rum Geographos, (Strabonem in primis) Hiftoricos item, et eos maxime quorum caußa opus fufceperam accurate obfervarem, nec à majoris partis, aut eorum certe quibus dignius est credi, confenfu decknare.. ut fi nihil aliud, hoc certe afecutus fuerim, vt minus mea ab fingulis diffentiant, quam ipfi inter fe principes hujus difcipline dissidere videntur, Enimverò hiftoricorum, quos commemoravi, lectioni apta. hæc congruentiaq, quemlibet inventurum fpero que meo et aliorum quorundam defiderio utcung interim fatisfacient: dum alius, me et industria ufu har in parte præcellens vel meo excitatus conatu, meliora (quod opto) edat. Vale.


Of all the lands that the immense, enclosing Ocean bounds, I plan to describe Greece, the most ancient and noble of all, whether in the fame of its deeds or in the commendation of its humanities and teachings, to assist and illustrate the readings of Thucydides first, then also Herodotus, Xenophon, Diodorus, and other writers. Since I have not surveyed these regions with my own eyes, nor could I have someone who reported each thing as known through themselves, I decided to rely on both recent and ancient geographers, together with both ancient historians and those who have made inferences. But Ptolemy, whose old description is in our hands today, I did not consider to be an equal author to the others, not only because he provides scarcely half of the towns that are read in the writings, but also because he often disagrees with both geographers and historians (which can be noted with many examples).

In addition, following Thucydides several ages later, Greece has already changed its face in many parts, and his description is dissimilar to that older and flourishing region, and therefore is not quite suitable for the reading of the writers of that time. Therefore, when I was sending out my new translation of Thucydides, besides the perpetual Annotations on this author, I tried to add Chronology and Chorography, two lights of history. Moreover, thinking that, as with other parts of mathematics, geography today is held to be more and more certain, and our geographers would not have deviated so much from Ptolemy unless certain experience had forced them to oppose him, I judged it safer to follow the descriptions of the more recent authors, which I noticed agree more with the monuments of the ancients, using the method to observe carefully both other ancient geographers, (Strabo in particular), historians too, and especially those for whose sake I had undertaken the work, and not to deviate from the consensus of the majority, or certainly those who are more credible.

So that if I have achieved nothing else, I have certainly achieved this: my descriptions disagree less with each other than the main experts of this discipline seem to disagree among themselves. Indeed, I hope that anyone will find this suitable and consistent for reading the historians, which I mentioned, that satisfy for now both my desire and the desire of some others, until another person, either surpassing me in industry and experience in this field or aroused by my attempt, will produce better (which I wish). Farewell.


The map is extremely rare. This is the second example we have seen in over 30 years.

Zacharakis/Scutari 1639/1076.
George Achatz von Enenckel Biography

Georg Achatz Freiherr von Enenkel came from the Protestant noble family Enenkel von Albrechtsberg an der Pielach in Lower Austria . He studied ancient languages ​​and philosophy in Strasbourg and law at the University of Tübingen . He translated Thucydides history of the Peloponnesian War from Greek into Latin. He also wrote some legal works.

He was married to Anna Freiin von Althann, the daughter of the imperial court chamber president Christoph Freiherr von Althann and Elisabeth Freiin von Teufel. The only daughter Esther Maria died early.

As a Protestant (Protestant) in 1608 he signed the Horner Bund .

His brother Job Hartmann von Enenkel was also a historian and genealogist.