Antique Map of Southern Italy ORTELIUS ATLAS 1570 Poster
Created by Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598).
Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) is considered the first true atlas in the modern sense: a collection of uniform map sheets and sustaining text bound to form a book for which copper printing plates were specifically engraved. The Ortelius atlas is sometimes referred to as the summary of sixteenth-century cartography. Many of his atlas's maps were based upon sources that no longer exist or are extremely rare. Ortelius appended a unique source list (the "Catalogus Auctorum") identifying the names of contemporary cartographers, some of whom would otherwise have remained obscure. More than an original concept, the Theatrum was also the most authoritative and successful such work during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Because it was frequently revised to reflect new geographical and historical insights, contemporary scholars in western Europe praised the Theatrum highly for its accuracy, even as they embraced the atlas's concept. The Theatrum atlas first appeared in 1570 and continued to be published until 1612. During this period, over seventy-three hundred copies were printed in thirty-one editions and seven different languages-a remarkable figure for the time.