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Showing posts from May, 2014

Here Be Dragons - Except Not Really

For the uninitiated, the phrase 'Here be dragons' (immortalised by classical era fanboys as Hic Sunt Draconesin Latin) was believed to be widely used on maps by cartographers to describe dangerous and otherwise unexplored lands. This phrase would typically lie on the outline of ancient sepia maps, warning would-be travelers of the mysterious great blue yonder.

Of course, aside from a rather trivial exception, this seems to be quite inaccurate. Whilst animals have been used in the past to denote dangers of the unknown (an Anglo-Saxon map warns of lions in Africa, Ptolmey's Geographia atlas warned of elephants, hippos and even cannibals!), the only instance where dragons were mentioned by name comes from the Hunt-Lenox Globe (which is actually on display at the New York Public Library).

Made in 1506, this copper sphere was one of the first to be made after Columbus' expedition to the New World. Stamped on Southeast Asia , the Latin words 'Hic Sunt Dracones' lie …