Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ptolemy's map of Germany

An interesting article from Der Spiegel, the popular German news magazine. Go ahead, follow the link - this is the English language version.

It seems that a team of researchers has solved a long-standing puzzle: locating the settlements that Ptolemy, working around 150 C.E., listed with his map of Germany. Unfortunately, the article isn't terribly clear about it, but it appears that he drew rivers and mountains on his map, but listed the settlements separately in a table, with an idiosyncratic way of designating latitude and longitude. If I understand it correctly, it's this system that has resisted deciphering in the present day. However, the group of scholars has decoded Ptolemy's system in a way that matches up not only with many existing cities, but with known archaeological sites as well. If they're right, it would appear that Germany during the Roman Empire was a more heavily populated and cultured place than the Romans reported.

1 comment:

James Hanley said...

I just assumed that it meant he'd formerly worked at Sequoia.