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Description

Very attractively colored antique Jansson map of the Holy Land, showing the lands pertaining to the tribes of Dimidius as well as an inset map showing the travels of Abraham. This is the leftmost of the six panels which compose the Jansson map, showing the northernmost part of Palestine. The plate is arranged so that the western half of the image appears upside-down on the right.

The map is intricately engraved to show topographical features, major roads, towns and villages. It is also richly embellished with illustrations, for example, Saul being thrown off his horse and blinded. Important holy sites are located.

Jansson based this map on Christian van Adricham's “Situs Terrae Promissionis” of ca. 1590. This version is both expanded and carries additional vignettes and details. Georgius Hornius wrote the text that accompanied the map in volume six of Jansson’s Novus AtlasAccuratissimia Orbis Antiqui Delineatio.

Maps of the Holy Land and the early history of Israel

Maps of the Holy Land, a popular genre in the early modern period, allowed users to better understand events from religious traditions. For the mapmaker, the relationship between religion and geography acted as a powerful storytelling tool, allowing viewers to spatialize religious stories. The maps show the centrality of religion to early modern European culture, as well as an enduring interest in historical geography.  

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Twelve Tribes of Israel, partially shown here, descended from the twelve sons of Jacob.  In the tenth century BCE, the Israelites made up approximately 300 highland villages with a population of approximately 40,000 people. These villages would begin to conglomerate in the ninth century BCE. The kingdom formed by their joining was referred to by its neighbors as the House of David. After the kingdoms of Samaria and Judah were destroyed, the resulting Babylonian captivity caused a merging of the south Levantine groups into a unified cultural identity.

This unified kingdom would ultimately not last, however. Tensions between the tribes of Israel mounted over a disagreement as to the location of the mountain on which Moses attempted to sacrifice Isaac. Eventually, the tensions exploded when the Hasmonean King destroyed the temple of another tribe, which caused the lower Levant to devolve into chaos. This civil conflict would last until the Roman Empire invaded, with future emperor Vespasian leading an army into Israel under the pretense of restoring order. This resulted in Roman dominance over the lower Levant until the Muslim conquests of the seventh century CE.

Georgius Hornius and universal history

Although published by Jan Jansson, the wall map this composes was made in collaboration with Georgius Hornius (1620-1670) and is often called the “Hornius Map.” Hornius was a renowned cartographer and historian who published maps as well. His family was forced to flee to Nuremberg during the religious violence of the Thirty Years War. He would eventually attend the University of Altdorf, studying religion and medicine there.

Hornius’s first notable work was a history of the English Civil War, which he witnessed firsthand as a traveler. In 1648 he completed his doctorate in Leiden; by this time, his historical works had drawn the attention of many universities which sought him as a professor. He eventually decided to accept a professorship at the University of Harderwijk where he quickly became rector in 1652, a position he would hold until his death in 1670.

Hornius’s historical works were influential, propagating the idea of universal history, which was an understanding of history as a whole, concurrent unit. He also prepared the text for portions of Jansson’s Novus AtlasAccuratissimia Orbis Antiqui Delineatio, including the text that accompanied this map. Hornius’s works would continue to be relevant after his death, with many posthumous editions of his writings published.

Jan Jansson Biography

Jan Janssonius (also known as Johann or Jan Jansson or Janszoon) (1588-1664) was a renowned geographer and publisher of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch dominated map publishing in Europe. Born in Arnhem, Jan was first exposed to the trade via his father, who was also a bookseller and publisher. In 1612, Jan married the daughter of Jodocus Hondius, who was also a prominent mapmaker and seller. Jonssonius’ first maps date from 1616.

In the 1630s, Janssonius worked with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius. Their most successful venture was to reissue the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Jodocus Hondius had acquired the plates to the Mercator atlas, first published in 1595, and added 36 additional maps. After Hondius died in 1612, Henricus took over publication; Janssonius joined the venture in 1633. Eventually, the atlas was renamed the Atlas Novus and then the Atlas Major, by which time it had expanded to eleven volumes. Janssonius is also well known for his volume of English county maps, published in 1646.

Janssonius died in Amsterdam in 1664. His son-in-law, Johannes van Waesbergen, took over his business. Eventually, many of Janssonius’ plates were sold to Gerard Valck and Pieter Schenk, who added their names and continued to reissue the maps.