Abstract: The Magnificent Peutinger Map: Roman Cartography at its Most Creative


Romans – more than any other ancient people – came to realize that maps are not mere factual records, but also value-laden documents.  Then, as now, maps could even be designed to promote and reinforce values, from peace and civilization to unashamed pride in conquest and entitlement to world-rule.  Scholars recently have developed more sensitive and satisfying approaches to interpreting the cartographic products of pre-modern societies: Richard Talbert’s lecture deepens insight into the particular case of the Romans.  He reconsiders the thinking behind the immense Marble Plan of the city of Rome.  Above all, he exposes powerful meaning and purpose in the so-called ‘Peutinger Map’, an elongated, astonishingly rich, Roman world-map.  He constructs a compelling fresh context for this underrated masterpiece.  In addition, he identifies its creation as a pivotal moment in Western cartography, an inspirational awakening with a long-term cultural impact that would influence Christian mapmaking through to the Renaissance.


Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic (for lay reader):

Rome’s World: the Peutinger Map Reconsidered, a digital presentation by R. Talbert due for publication by Cambridge University in Spring 2010

“The Roman worldview: beyond recovery?” in  Geography, Ethnography, and Perspectives of the World in Pre-Modern Societies, co-edited by R. Talbert and K. Raaflaub (Wiley-Blackwell).

The website www.unc.edu/awmc offers further reading, and the Barrington Atlas has a Wikipedia page.

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