|Giacomo Gastaldi (ca. 1500-1560)
“Prima Tavola,” from Giovani Battista Ramusio, Delle Navigationi et Viaggi, Venice, 1554.
Courtesy Afriterra Foundation.
Twentieth century, socially-oriented geographers were not the first to turn the world upside down. For example, Venetian geographer Ramusio included this south-oriented map of Africa in his mid-16th century collection of exploration and travel accounts.
Since the Republic of Venice, a world power of commerce and trade, had strong economic ties with the Ottoman Empire, this orientation most likely reflected the Islamic cartographic tradition in which maps were often oriented with South at the top of the map. The geographic content of the map is based on knowledge obtained from Arab geographers and Portuguese discoveries.