A striking map of the modern Holy Land from the 1482 Ulm Ptolemy
By PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius [translated by ANGELUS, Jacobus, edited by GERMANUS, Nicolaus] , 1482

[Modern Holy Land]

Asia Holy Land
  • Author: PTOLEMAEUS, Claudius [translated by ANGELUS, Jacobus, edited by GERMANUS, Nicolaus]
  • Publication place: Ulm
  • Publisher: Lienhart Holle
  • Publication date: 16 July 1482.
  • Physical description: Woodcut map, fine original hand-colour, old repairs to lower margins.
  • Dimensions: 430 by 590mm. (17 by 23.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 18404


The map was published in the first atlas printed outside Italy and the first atlas illustrated with woodcut maps.

In 1482 Lienhart Holle in Ulm published a revised edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia with the reworking of the Ptolemaic corpus by the cartographer Nicolaus Germanus Donis. The atlas included five additional “modern” maps: Italy, Spain, France, Scandinavia, and the Holy Land. The atlas would be the first book printed by Lienhart Holle, however, it would appear that the venture proved ruinously expensive and his business would go bankrupt shortly after publication. The remaining sheets, the woodblocks and the types passed to Johann Reger in Ulm, who reissued the work in 1486.

As well as the modern maps the atlas bears some other notable first. It was the first time that maps were signed by the artist responsible for the woodcutting; in this case Johannes of Armsheim, who signed the world map, and incorporated a backwards N into the woodcut text on each map. It is also the first to print the accompanying text on the verso of the map to which it refers. Another important feature of the Ulm editions is the introduction of the publisher’s colouring upon the maps. Maps from 1482 usually have a rich blue colour in the sea which was replaced with a soft brown colour in 1486.

?The Map
One of the “modern maps” included in the Ulm edition shows the Holy Land oriented to the southeast, as shown by the sloping lines of latitude above the image, stretching from Gaza in the south to Sidon in the north and extending into the Trans-Jordananian region. The territories of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are delineated, and a few small vignettes represent scenes from scripture, such as Jacob pitching his tent his tent in Salem (Genesis 33:18) and King David’s relocation to Hebron on the direct orders of God (II Samuel 2:1). It is based on a manuscript map, originally drafted by Pietro Vesconte and published by Marino Sanunto around 1320, and later updated by Germanus in 1482; it appeared in printed form in the Rome Ptolemy of 1478 and then both Ulm editions. In the water to the south of Carmel, the island of Atlit is labelled the “Castle of the Pilgrims”, after the Crusader fortress built there in 1218, and to the north of Jaffa, the smaller island of Assur appears. Although this version displays notable improvements from the original map, there are nonetheless many errors, such as the size and shape of the mountains, and the scale of the River Jordan.


  1. Campbell, T., 'Earliest Printed Maps', p. 179-210
  2. Schreiber 5032
  3. Skelton, R.A., Bibliographical note prefixed to the facsimile of the 1482 Ulm Ptolemy

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