Gudmund Schütte.

Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes online

. (page 5 of 17)
Online LibraryGudmund SchüttePtolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes → online text (page 5 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

is written on the map with capital letters which rival those of "Ger-
mania megale". Cf. our § 28. These arbitrary arrangements are evidently
due to a cartographer whose scheme was more ornamental and geome-
trical, than truly topographic.

Prototype A, and perhaps also others of the Ptolemaic sources, con-
tained the Roman system of roads, or at least the main lines. But such
details which would have added largely to the practical value of the
atlas are completely ignored by the Ptol. constructor.

We have now finished considering the various classes of Ptolemy's
errors and arbitrary arrangements. In the following paragraphs, we shall
proceed to the reconstruction of his assumable prototypes.


The prototypes of Ptolemy's work betray their existence most ob-
viously in those names which are doubled or tripled. But we may also
recognize them in those names which appear only once. The fancy re-

^) Observed by J. Fischer, "An important Ptolemy MS.", p, 229, and "Die handschrift-
liche Ueberlieferung", p. 229.



petitions are generally like the backbones in whole bodies or complexes
still preserving their cohesion inherited from the original prototypes.

Let us, e. g., take the tribes from the borders of the lower Elbe.
Firstly, the "Lakkobardoi", i. e. Langobards, appear localised along the
Elbe directly beside the Saxons. Secondly, their alter ego "Laggobardoi
Sueboi" appear near the Rhine, directly beside the "Aggeiloi Sueboi",
or Angles. — Only localisation no. i is correct, whereas no. 2 is due to
fancy repetition and misplacement. But cohesion with the surroundings
is disturbed in neither case: localisation no. i correctly shows the Lango-
bards as neighbours of the Saxons, and no. 2 just as correctly places
them beside the Angles. Moreover, the cohesion in case no. 2 appears
at the first glance from the additional "Sueboi", common to both of the
tribes concerned.

Similarly, we may in most cases point out whole series of non-
repeated names accompanying the series of fancy repetitions. In order
to have a fixed comprehensive denomination, we may unite both cate-
gories as '^repetition milieus", or, when speaking more definitely, as
"duplicate milieus" or "triplicate milieus".

Having stated the existence of such milieus, the next thing is to
examine from what sort of prototypes they are derived.

Two main alternatives must be considered.

Our author — Marinus or Ptolemy — may have read various de-
scriptions, such as Strabo's "Geography", Pliny's "Natural History", and
the "German ia" of Tacitus, etc. From these he would have picked up
the same names three or four times without recognizing their identity,
and finally he would have tried to distribute the supposed new names
within the framework of the Imperial Roman map of the world.

Or, we may suppose that our author did not start from descriptive
works, but from ready-made maps. Thus, he did not localise every
supposed new name separately, but reproduced the whole series, found
on his original maps.

The first alternative seems to be preferred by Miillenhoff. Cf. espe-
cially the second volume of his "Deutsche Altertumskunde", wherein he
deals with the making of Ptolemy's section Sarmatia Europsea.' On
the map of Germany, there are certainly some cases more or less
distincly belonging to this category. The most prominent is the famous
"town" Siatutanda or "Protect-their- homesteads" which has been unveiled
by Hermann Miiller as an extract from the "Annals" of Tacitus. An-
other is the town Marobudon, originating equally from the Tacitean
"Annals". Cf our § 6.

But generally we are inclined to prefer the second alternative.

At any rate, it is clear that alternative no. i would make an analysis
of the Ptolemaic atlas almost hopeless, whereas no. 2 would give a far


better chance. For the localisations found in the classical descriptions of
barbarian Europe and N. Asia are very vague and would become com-
pletely confused when interpreted by a bad philologist such as the Ptol.
constructor. Whereas a map says more distinctly what it means, no
matter whether its contents are right or wrong.

We therefore think that, for argument's sake, we must start from the
presumption that Ptolemy's atlas has been constructed mainly on the
foundation of ready-made maps, and not mainly on the foundation of

Our task will be an attempt to reconstruct the supposed original
maps or "prototypes" used by Marinus-Ptolemy. The provisional re-
search, in our opinion, has led to satisfactory results. If the critics will
not admit it, they may counter-verify our results by undertaking a re-
construction of Ptolemy's sources on the base of alternative no. i. We
shall not enter upon this experiment ourselves, — for if alternative no. i
were really preferable, we should not regard the ultimate results as worth
the trouble.

Our paragraphs dealing with the single prototypes will contain the
following sub-divisions :

a. Summary of Contents; b. Ptolemaic Localisation; c. Definition of
Limits; d. General Topographic Scheme; e Statistical Features; f. Oc-
currence of Duplicates; g. Linguistic Marks; h. Literary Milieu; i. Exa-
mination of Details; j. Conclusion.


For the sake of a general survey, we start with a synopsis of the
Ptolemaic prototypes assumed by us. In this way, their prominent
features will more easily be realized and compared. Each of the sum-
maries will be repeated unaltered at the beginning of the paragraph
dealing with the prototype concerned. — Cf. our figure i which attempts
to represent the assumable distribution of prototypes.

A. (§ 18). Collective map describing Europe partially

or entirely.
The extension, as specified under i — 5 beneath, would correspond to
the areas of the local prototypes A, Aa, Ah,, Ac, Ad & Ae, Bi. Pre-
sumably containing e.g.: i) a physical description of Germany; 2) tribes
along the German and Cimbric coasts; 3) fortification lines and towns in
the Roman Limes district between the Rhine and the Danube; 4) tribes
and towns along the mercantile road from the middle Danube to the
mouth of the Vistula; 5) tribes and towns in Roman Dacia till beyond
the Carpathian mountains; but scarcely recording towns in other regions


36 Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe

east of the Rhine and north of the Danube. Containing a system ot
roads. The Latin language is probably used in editing. Originally
derived from the Imperial Roman map of the world- affinity with the
Tabula Peutingeriana.

A. (§ 19). Local map, an oro- and hydrographic description

of Germany.
Contains the most detailed representation of German mountains, known
in classical times; the rivers are represented with less detail. Latin
language of editing. Affinities with authors of the first century A. D., such
as Strabo, Mela, Phny, Tacitus. — Serves as main basis of the corre-
sponding section in A. Cf Fig. 5.

Aa. (§ 20). Special map; a coast description, stretching from
about the Rhine to eastern Denmark.
Including Scania, but not the whole of the Scandinavian Peninsula.
Detailed observations of headlands and islands; numerous tribes, but few
or no towns. Duplicates of its names occur in C, D, E & F. Some
Latin marks. Executed shortly after the expedition of the Roman navy
to the Cimbric Chersonese 5 A. D. Affinities with Augustus (Monum.
Ancyr.), Mela, Pliny, less pronounced affinities with Strabo and Tacitus.
— Correctly amalgamated with A. Cf. Fig. i — 4, 6 — 7, 29.

Ad. (§ 21). Special map, describing the Roman Limes
Containing fortification lines, mountains, rivers, and numerous towns,
but no tribes. No duplicates. Latin marks. Executed after the con-
struction of the Vallum Hadriani, i. e. towards the middle of the second
century A. D. Affinity with the Tabula Peutingeriana. — The main
part is correctly amalgamated with A, but the extremities are extended
too far towards the north and the south-east. Cf. Fig. 8— 11.

Ac. (§ 22). Physical map of Dacia.
Probably with few or no towns. Executed perhaps before the Roman
conquest. Correctly amalgamated with A. Cf. Fig. 13.

Ad & Ae. (§ 22). Itineraries describing Dacia.
Containing rivers, tribes, roads, and towns. Ad and Ae are partially
duplicates of eachother; scattered duplicates besides occur in Bi, B2 &
F. Latin marks. Executed after the Roman conquest of Dacia 105 A.D.
Affinities with the Tabula Peutingeriana (= the Anonymus Ravennas).
The prototypes seem to have been amalgamated before the times of
Ptolemy; the map resulting is roughly speaking correctly amalgamated
with A. Cf. Fig. 12—18.


Bi & B2, (§ 23). Itineraries, describing the mercantile road
from the Danube to the mouth of the Vistula.
Containing mountains, rivers, tribes, a road-line, and towns. Bi and
B2 are dupHcates of eachother; scattered duplicates occur in Ac & E.
Latin marks; B2 may have been translated into Greek before the stage
of Ptolemy. Executed after the introduction of a well established Ro-
man amber trade under the reign of Nero (54—68 A. D.). Affinities
with Strabo and Tacitus. Bi is correctly amalgamated with A\ B2 is
displaced, being introduced directly west of the twin prototype Bi. Cf
Fig. 19—20.

C. (§ 24). Itinerary, describing north-western Gaul, Belgium,
and a part of north-western Germany.
Containing rivers, tribes and towns. Duplicates occur in Aa and D.
Latin marks; perhaps translated into Greek before the stage of Ptolemy.
Close affinity with the Itinerarium Antonini and the Tabula Peutingeriana.
Displaced towards the east, the Belgian Germania of C being mistaken
for Germany of A. Cf Fig. 21 — 23.

D, (§ 25). Local map or description, containing Swabian tribes

about the lower Elbe.
Only tribes traceable. A duplicate name occurs in Aa. No Latin
marks. Affinity with Strabo and especially with Tacitus. Displaced to-
wards the west, partially from the Elbe to the Rhine.

E %i F. (§ 26). Collective maps, describing eastern Germany,
Sarmatia Europaea, Sarmatia Asiatica, and Scythia.
Containing all sorts of geographical categories; F is besides marked
by a system of "ethno-topic denomination". E and F are duplicates of
eachother; scattered duplicates occur in Aa, Ac, Bi, B2. E has Latin
marks (Sarmatai instead of Skythai F), but seems to have been translated
into Greek before the stage of Ptolemy. F has only Greek marks. —
Executed after the introduction of a well established Roman amber trade
with the Baltic regions during the reign of Nero. Affinity with Pliny,
including antiquated Herodotian names. — ^ E is placed in eastern Europe
and northern Asia, not entering Germany; it is turned over, so that
north becomes west, whereas east becomes north. — F continues the
eastern parts of A without confusion worth speaking of It is possible
or likely that F was amalgamated with Sk, before the cornbination of
the latter with A took place. Cf. Fig. 24 — 26.

38 Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe

Sk. (§ 27). Special map or description of the Scandinavian

Containing tribes only. No duplicates, except Finnoi in E. Greek
marks. A limited affinity with Tacitus. — Possibly amalgamated with F\
finally introduced into the Scanian Peninsula of A (= Aa)\ it is so far
correctly localised, but compressed within far to narrow an area. Cf.
Fig. 27.

a. Summary of Contents.

The extension, as specified under 1 — 5 beneath, would correspond to
the areas of the local prototypes A, Aa, Ab, Ac^ Ad & Ae, Bi. Pra-
sumably containing e. g. : i) a physical description of Germany; 2) tribes
along the German and Cimbric coasts; 3) fortification lines and towns
in the Roman Limes district between the Rhine and the Danube; 4) tribes
and towns along the mercantile road from the. middle Danube to the
mouth of the Vistula; 5) tribes and towns in Roman Dacia till beyond
the Carpathian mountains; but scarcely recording towns in other regions
east of the Rhine and north of the Danube. Containing a system of
roads. The Latin language is probably used in editing. Originally
derived from the Imperial Roman map of the world; affinity with the
Tabula Peutingeriana.

It may at the outset be taken for granted that the work of Marinus
was no mere mosaique of local maps or descriptions, freshly amalgamated
by him, but that it started from more or less collective bases, and one
of these would have been our assumable prototype A. We are not able
to investigate it throughout Europe, as it would lead too far. For
argument's sake, however, it is necessary to point out its possible
traces within our particular sphere of concern, viz. middle Europe and

We may here anticipate from the heading "literary milieu" that there
actually existed a collective map with an extension fairly corresponding
to that of our Prot. A beyond the Rhine and the Danube. It is the
Tabula Peutingeriana which contains: A) northern German tribes as far
east as towards the Elbe, e. g.- Chrepstini = Cherusci; B) towns of the
Roman Limes between the Rhine and the Danube; C) towns in Roman
Dacia right north to the Carpathian mountains; D) the tribe of Buri,
perhaps representing an originally more detailed description of the mer-
cantile road from the Danube to the mouth of the Vistula. The pre-
sence of such a collective map is a fact which will remain unshaken,
even if we do not succeed in proving the existence of a corresponding


document by means of internal observations from the Ptol. atlas. Con-
sequently, we may regard the Tab. Peuting. as the main basis for as-
suming a collective prototype A.

b. Ptolemaic Localisation.

Two sharply contrasting strata appear within the Ptolemaic atlas: the
correctly and the badly localised prototypes.

The Ptol. maps of Germany and surroundings betray the existence of
the following local prototypes which are in complete or partial harmony
with the collective framework of the atlas:

A = physical map of Germany; An = Denmark and north-western
Germany (partially corresponding to region A of the Tab. Peuting.);
Ad = south-western Germany (= region B^ Tab. Peuting.); Ac, Ad &
Ae = Jazygia and Dacia (= region C, Tab. Peuting.); Bi = the mer-
cantile road from the Danube to the mouth of the Vistula (= the some-
what questionable section D of the Tab. Peuting.). — - A, Aa, Ac, and
Bi are localised correctly. The main parts of Ab and Ad have been
treated equally. But the northern extremity of Ab invades Aa, whereas
the south-western seems to be turned the wrong way. Ad and Ae have
suffered various displacements, although they are not entirely banished
from their due localisations.

The following prototypes have all been totally misplaced by the Ptol.
constructor :

B2, a duplicate oi Bi\ C =^ Belgium & north-western Germany;
D = the group of northern Swabians; E = a. collective map of north-
eastern Germany, Sarmatia Europaea, Sarmatia Asiatica.

The collective prototype F, a duplicate of E, is on the contrary cor-
rectly amalgamated with the Ptol. map of middle Europe.

The local prototype Sk, i. e. the map of the Scandinavian Peninsula,
is connected with the design of Scania on the Ptol. map. The localisa-
tion is so far correct, but the scales of the two maps are obviously
unequal and the Ptol. constructor has not been aware of this essential
difference (cf. p. 40).

The distinction of what is correctly and incorrectly localised may
sometimes be a matter of dispute, but the general fact can scarcely be
contested that two such strata exist within the Ptol. maps of Germany
and surroundings.

It seems to us that these two strata must betray the working of at
least two different editors. The carthographer who interpreted a whole
series of local maps fairly speaking correctly, apart from smaller mis-
takes, would not at the same time be found guilty of misplacing another
series in the most absurd manner. Our argument is supported by the
fact that the series of the correctly localised prototypes re- appear ge-


nerally on the Tabula Peutingeriana, partially with traces of the same
moderate errors, whereas the Tabula contains no trace whatever of the
larger Ptolemaic misplacements (those represented by the localisation of
the prototypes B2, C, D, and E). This observation will be discussed
more particularly under the heading "literary milieu".

Consequently, we assign to Prot. A, as a rule, the more or less cor-
rectly localised prototypes. We except, however, Prot. F and Sk. The
possibility is perhaps not excluded that Prot. A Sl F should be regarded
as representing in one stratum a relatively correct map of the world.
But F, at any rate, possessed an individuality of its own. It appears
from different observations, viz.: the system of "ethno- topic denomination",
cf. under d. : the occurrence of duplicates, cf. under e.; the pure Greek
orthography, cf. under f. Prot. Sk, as we mentioned above, represents a
scale largely differing from that of A and also the pure Greek ortho-
graphy of Sk points towards a separate individuality. Most likely, Sk
had been introduced into F, before the Ptol. constructor amalgamated
this prototype with A.

c. Definition of Limits.

After stating generally the different qualities of the two Ptolemaic
strata, our next task is to examine in detail how far the superior one
stretches towards the north-east, — so far we may extend the assumable
Prot. A, and no longer.

Along the coast, the extension is easy to define. The superior de-
sign embraces the German North Sea coast, the Cimbric Chersonese and
the ''island of Scandia". This area, corresponding to the local prototype
Aa, stretches far east on the northern side of the Baltic. But, on the
southern side, the superior design suddenly stops when the base of the
Cimbric Chersonese is reached: the German and Sarmatian coast of the
Baltic is a smooth theoretical Hne with no observation of local details
except the fact that the coast curves towards the north-east when the
mouth of the Vistula is passed.

The "island of Scandia", i. e. the peninsula of Scania, must have
been completely blank, apart from its own name. The seven Scandian
tribes on Ptolemy's map, including Norwegians and Fins, can not origin-
ally have been compressed within such a narrow space. Scandia is only
the fifth part of the Cimbric Chersonese which affords room for practi-
cally the same number of tribes, (8). As a matter of fact, most of the
MS. atlases give up the attempt at writing out the names of thfe Scan-
dian tribes, because the space is insufficient.

The above-mentioned Baltic coast of Germany with the smooth the-
oretical outline is almost quite as bare of detail, containing, as it seems,
only the following verified tribe-names which may be assigned to A:


Semnones, *Varinoi, Teutones. The rivers Chalusos and Svebos are
duplicates of the Oder and Vistula, introduced from the displaced Prot.
B2 by the Ptol. constructor. The frontier of this practically blank region
is formed by the middle Elbe, the mountain Askiburgion, and the river

Then follows a better known region stretching from the Oder till
beyond the Vistula. It is the area of the mercantale road from the
Danube to the amber coast. The larger part of the Ptolemaic river
*' Vistula" is simply the line of this road in disguise as it appeared in
Prot. A (= local Prot. Bi).

East of the Vistula, the assumable traces of A again disappear.
Ptolemy decorates tho coast with four rivers, Chronos, Rudon, Turuntes,
and Chesinos. Three of them at least certainly belong to the misplaced
Prot. £, being transplanted from the coast of the Black Sea where Pliny
knows of the rivers Rhode and Acesinus.

In the inland region towards the south east, we may trace Prot. A
throughout the map of Dacia which contains traces of relatively correct
physical observations. We are not able to decide the eventual extension
of A farther east (cf. under b., p. 40).

d. General Topographic Scheme.
When we claim for Prot. A the correct physical framework, the idea
of accuracy is of course to be understood ''cum grano salis". Numerous
details of Europe which may belong to A are obviously wrong; e. g.
the peninsulas of Istria and Chalkidike and the north-westward turning of
the Rhine are ignored. But it must not be forgotten that in several
cases Prot. A may have suffered deterioration at the hands of the Ptol.
constructor, cf. § 15.

e. Statistical Features.

Prot. A seems to have contained categories which were eliminated by
the Ptol. constructor.

The Roman fortification wall between the Rhine and the Danube was
represented, NB supposed that the local prototype Ad belonged to the
elements of A. Our presumption is supported by the fact that a part
of the wall re-appears on the Tab. Peutingeriana, only mistaken for the
upper course of the Danube.

A road system is also indicated. One of its routes is traceable from
the Sarmatian (= small Carpathian) mountains to the inferior Vistula.
It is the well-known amber road which has by the Ptol. constructor been
disguised as frontier-line between Germania and Sarmatia; besides, a
section of it is erroneously identified with the upper Vistula which flows
in reality much farther east, apart from the very short initial branch. —


A whole series of roads are traceable in Dacia, belonging to the local
prototypes Ad and Ae. The situation of the Ptolemaic towns corresponds
so exactly to the routes of the Tab. Peuting. that we observe clearly
how the Ptol. constructor must have effaced the road-lines of the
original map.

Ethnic signs, connecting the tribes with their respective towns, seem
to have occurred within the area of Prot. A, because they have given
rise to distortion of the Ptolemaic orthography in such cases as pAtri-
batioi, roMorinoi, Wessones, cf. § lo og ii. We cannot, however,
discern whether they belonged to the collective prototype A or only
to some of its local elements. The present quite arbitrary distribution
of the signs throughout all Continents is clearly due to the Ptol. con-
structor, cf. § 15.

A negative criterion is the absence or rareness of that peculiarity
which we call the "ethno-topic denomination", and which has become a
directly stereotypic mark of the collective Prot. F. Within the western
area of Ptolemy's atlas, it is so rare that its presence may be regarded
as merely accidental. We notice e. g. only two instances north of the
Elbe, viz. Kimbroi & Kimbrike Chersonesos, and Saxones & Saxon
islands. There are two instances between the Elbe and the Vistula:
Sveboi & river Svebos, Virunoi & town Virunon. In Dacia, there would
have been a natural opportunity of introducing some 4 or 5 cases 01
''ethnic-topic denomination", cf. § 22, but it has not been used. As the
ethno-topic denominations abound on the neighbouring Sarmatian ground,
originating from Prot. F, we may regard their rare occurrence in more
western regions as a sign that the sections concerned have a different

Apart from the roads which are traceable on various points, it is
scarcely possible to point out any marked statistical feature which might
form a means of defining the area of the assumable prototype A.

In order to realise the absence of outstanding statistical features,
marking the area of Prot. A, it will finally be adviseable to regard the
Ptolemaic inequalities, due to local prototypes within the area of Ger-
many and its environs.

a. = Prot. Aa. The Cimbric Chersonese and north-western Germany are
filled with tribes which seem to be correctly localised. On the other
hand, the Cimbric Chersonese is entirely bare of towns, and in north-
western Germany, the correctly localised towns are at least rare. (The
Ptol. constructor may have eliminated some towns from the Cimbric
Chersonese, according to his arbitrary scheme, but there could scarcely
have been many from the very beginning.)


b. = Prot. Ad. The Limes line in the mountains of south-western Ger-
many has numerous towns, but no verified tribes.

c. The eastern side of the Rhine valley from Tarodunon to Mattiakon
(Zarten-Wiesbaden) has neither verified tribes nor towns. It ought to
have had ten times as many towns, as occur in C (cf. § 21, d.).

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Online LibraryGudmund SchüttePtolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes → online text (page 5 of 17)