Saturday, April 7, 2018

Earth Agnostic: Mappa Americani

I was recently made aware of this map, the topic of today's blog post. I came across it on a Russian language YouTube video in which a man was discussing conspiracy theories about North Korea, and also the possibility that there is some type of land bridge connecting the Asian and American continents. This is an idea I've taken an interest in previously on here, albeit in a more circumspect way.

(State of Nations at the Christian Era - A. Finley 1827)

The full title of the map is "State of Nations at the Christian aera From Pinkerton on the Goths" and it depicts the state of the world as it was said to be in ancient times, not as it was at the time of its publication (early 19th century). I've came across the antiquarian John Pinkerton before when I've been investigating other historical curiosities. He was possibly most famous for his theories about the Goths and the Celts. A particularly memorable quote from him is the following;

"What a lion is to an ass, such is a Goth to a Celt."

What's especially interesting about this map - and what the Russian in the video was alluding to - is that in the top right hand corner it has the label "Americani".

(State of Nations at the Christian Era - Detail)

Now I would imagine that this is simply an allusion to notions that the tribes that inhabited this region of Russia were also of the same stock as those which inhabited the north of the American continent. After all there are also maps published by Pinkerton himself which show us a more familiar rendering of the world, so it's unlikely that this labelling would be suggesting one continuous world landmass.

(1818 Pinkerton Map of the Northern Hemisphere)

Nevertheless the label of "Americani" is still quite interesting and worthy of note. In fact, I've mentioned on this blog before the ethnic and cultural similarities between people on both sides of this North Pacific divide. This label would suggest that earlier thinkers were also well aware of these similarities.

You may also have noticed that the "Americani" map is divided into two coloured sections. With Russia, Scandinavia and East Asia coloured pink in contrast to the wider map which is coloured yellow. The reason for this is that everything beyond this demarcation was thought to be ocean and not land in ancient times. With closer inspection we can read the following;

(State of Nations at the Christian Era - Demarcation Line)

"On the north of this Line the Ancients placed the Scythic Ocean : on the East, the Eoan."

The Scythic Ocean was an ocean said to lie beyond the tribes of Scythia. An ocean that perhaps could be equated with the Arctic Ocean. "Eoan" is a word that is now largely obsolete, but was used to refer to the East or the dawn - i.e. where the sun rises or was thought to originate. In fact, the word Orient has a similar meaning and could be seen to be cognate with words like aura, orb, - or, oro and aurum (the French, Spanish and Latin for gold) - even the word orange. All donating in a sense a sun-like sphere of light.

Returning to the map it's quite interesting that large parts of this region beyond the demarcation line remained largely unexplored even at the time of the maps publication. Even today much of this region is relatively underpopulated. It's also interesting to note that the ancient view that beyond this line lay simply ocean would effectively place China, Mongolia and the Himalayan mountains virtually on the edge of the Arctic Ocean. The similarity of the words Arctic and Tartar is worth pondering too. The Tartar kingdoms effectively disappeared off the face of the world map as we entered the modern age. Maybe mysteries still remain in this region.

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