Sebastiano Crinò (ed.): La scoperta della carta originale di Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli, che servì di guida a Cristoforo Colombo per il viaggio verso il Nuovo Mondo, Firenze: Istituto Geografico Militare 1941
Signature: Zh 300-5410
Figures: Frontispiece; p. 1; Map 1-2
Whereas in the earlier centuries, traversing present-day Ukraine was unavoidable for travelers and merchants seeking to reach Asia, things would change in the 15th century. Maps produced during that period, such as the one created by the Florentine geographer Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli (1397–1482), demonstrate that change. Believed lost for centuries, as mentioned by Sebastiano Crinò, the map was rediscovered in Biblioteca Nazionale of Florence in 1941 (cf. p. 1).
This map – intended for navigation and resulting from the cooperation between several cosmographers (cf. p. 5) who would rely on ancient and contemporary sources – depicts the known world as an elongated ellipse. The map represents a turning point in the history of cartography. Firstly, as in modern maps, the North is situated at the top. Secondly, it deliberately omits the so-called Earthly Paradise, as its position (commonly located in the southernmost regions of Africa back then) was not mentioned by any of the cosmographers employed by Dal Pozzo Toscanelli (cf. p. 29). Thirdly, it integrates descriptions of the lands and the people living in Asia, including territories that were then mostly unknown to Westerners.
At the same time, if compared with the previous exhibits of this section, this map marks a relevant shift in the importance ascribed by westerners to Eastern Europe – including the territories of Ukraine. The lack of information on and descriptions dedicated to these territories on the map clarifies its cartographic importance for Westerners, for whom seafaring routes gained in significance during those years. [FM]