Exquisite antique map of Ancient North Africa, Spain, and the Western Mediterranean is a detailed testament to the expansive trade routes and notable geographic points of interest during antiquity.
The map covers the area from Italy, Spain, and the Balearic Islands, stretching across the sea to encompass Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Based on the earlier work of Johann Baptiste Liebaux, the map beautifully traces the sinuous contours of the North African coast, from Morocco and Algeria to Tunisia and Libya, detailing major ports and the topographical nuances of the land.
One of the standout features of the map is its meticulous treatment of the ancient trading routes of North Africa, spanning from Tripolitania (modern-day Libya) to Tingis (now known as Tangier in Morocco). These intricate pathways are drawn with precision, reflecting the region's rich history as a hub of trade and commerce.
The path begins at Tripolitania, threading its way westward across the cities of ancient Mauretania (present-day Algeria), Numidia and Byzacena, Proconsularis, and Arzugitana . Each city and trading post along these routes is detailed, showcasing the density of economic activity throughout North Africa during antiquity.
The map then traces the routes all the way to Tingis, a significant city located on the Strait of Gibraltar. Here, it highlights the proximity to the Pillars of Hercules, the ancient name given to the promontories that flank the entrance to the Strait. These Pillars, believed in antiquity to mark the end of the known world, are notated, hinting at the daring voyages of merchants who would have ventured beyond.
The depiction of these ancient trading routes offers a fascinating insight into the interconnectedness of the ancient world. It shows not only the geographic understanding of the time but also hints at the diverse array of goods, ideas, and cultures that would have traveled along these paths, making it a truly remarkable piece of historical cartography.
Philippe Buache (1700-1773) was one of the most famous French geographers of the eighteenth century. Buache was married to the daughter of the eminent Guillaume Delisle and worked with his father-in-law, carrying on the business after Guillaume died. Buache gained the title geographe du roi in 1729 and was elected to the Academie des Sciences in the same year. Buache was a pioneering theoretical geographer, especially as regards contour lines and watersheds. He is best known for his works such as Considérations géographiques et physiques sur les découvertes nouvelles dans la grande mer (Paris, 1754).