The Earliest States of Eastern Europe
DG-2023, 471-501

Mapping Antiquity in the Black Sea Region in the Middle Ages

A. O. Denisov

Antique names, images and ideas about the world take an important place on medieval maps although the situation was changing with the beginning of another epoch and during it. And this can’t always be explained only by nescience, but also by homage to the ancient heritage (including geography) which was one of the foundations of medieval culture. The authors of medieval maps were seeking for archaization and the image of the world on them was historical in general. Several layers of time are presented on maps as on other pictures of this epoch. In most cases it is about different moments of one event or of one person’s life for the last, while the scenes from different epochs of the world history are presented on the first. From this point of view the Black Sea and adjacent lands were not an exception. Besides, this region was actively colonized in the Antiquity. Moreover, the Black Sea was some kind of a frontier: its western and southern shores were ruled by the Eastern Roman Empire, eastern countries were on the other side, while its northern shores were considered as periphery of the world inhabited by barbarian nomads and monsters. The representation of the Black Sea depended on the type of a map a lot: some of them don’t have even the mention of its name while its outline constantly appears on others. More detailed maps contain more data about the structure of the Black Sea basin, the islands located within it, the rivers flowing into it and the surrounding lands. A more pragmatic approach towards the space of the Black Sea and the Black Sea Region is represented on nautical portolan charts created in the late Middle Ages when Italian merchants were trading in this area in an active way.

medieval maps, mappa mundi, T-O maps, the Black Sea, Pontus Euxinus, Circum-Pontic region

Карпов С.П. История Таны (Азова) в XIII–XV вв. Т. 1. Тана в XIII–XIV вв. СПб., 2021. [Karpov S.P. Istoriya Tany (Azova) v XIII–XV vv. T. 1. Tana v XIII–XIV vv. (History of Tana (Azov) in the XIII–XV centuries. Vol. 1. Tana in the XIIIXIV centuries). St-Petersburg, 2021.]

Подосинов А.В. Восточная Европа в римской картографической традиции. Тексты, перевод, комментарий. М., 2002. [Podossinov A.V. Vostochnaya Yevropa v rimskoy kartograficheskoy traditsii. Teksty, perevod, kommentariy (Eastern Europe in the Roman Cartographic Tradition. Texts, translation, commentary). Moscow, 2002.]

Подосинов А.В. Вновь найденная поздневизантийская карта мира // Византийский Временник. 2010. Т. 69 (94). C. 230–247. [Podossinov A.V. Vnov’ naydennaya pozdnevizantiyskaya karta mira (Newly found late Byzantine map of the world) // Vizantiyskiy Vremennik. 2010. Vol. 69 (94). S. 230–247.]

Подосинов А.В. Античные истоки средневековой картографии: проблема преемственности // ВДИ. 2020. T. 80/3. C. 675–696. [Podossinov A.V. Antichnyye istoki srednevekovoy kartografii: problema preyemstvennosti (Antique origins of medieval cartography: the problem of continuity) // Vestnik drevney istorii. 2020. T. 80/3. S. 675–696.]

Подосинов А.В., Джаксон Т.Н., Коновалова И.Г. Скифия в историко-географической традиции Античности и Средних веков. М., 2016. [Podossinov A.V., Jackson T.N., Konovalova I.G. Skifiya v istoriko-geograficheskoy traditsii Antichnosti i Srednikh vekov (Scythia in the historical and geographical tradition of Antiquity and the Middle Ages). Moscow, 2016.]

Фоменко И.К. Образ мира на старинных портоланах. Причерноморье. Конец XIIIXVII в. М., 2011. [Fomenko I.K. Obraz mira na starinnykh portolanakh. Prichernomor’ye. Konets XIII–XVII v. (Image of the world on ancient portolans. Black Sea region. End of XIII–XVII century) Moscow, 2011.]

Chekin L.S. Northern Eurasia in Medieval Cartography. Inventory, Texts, Translation, and Commentary. Turnhout, 2006.

Dan A. La mappemonde d’Albi – un pinax chôrographikos. Notes sur les origines antiques de la carte et du texte du ms Albi 29 fol. 57v–58r // Cartes & Géomatique. Revue du Comité français de cartographie. 2017, December. N 234.

The History of Cartography. Vol. 1. Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean / Ed. J.B. Harley, D. Woodward. Chicago, 1987.

Die Kosmographie des Aethicus / Hrsg. O. Prinz. München, 1993.

Kugler H. Die Ebstorfer Weltkarte. Bd. I: Atlas; Band II: Untersuchungen und Kommentar / Hrsg. H. Kugler. Berlin, 2007.

Virtual Mappa / Ed. M. Foys, H. Wacha et al. Philadelphia, 2020. URL: (30.05.2022).