Mappemonde

Mappemonde

ˈmapəmɒnd

Noun

  • A medieval map of the world.

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Example Sentences

“The historical society acquired a mappemonde that will be on display next year.”

“So many modern countries are not found on a medieval mappemonde.”

“The crowd to view the mappemonde was large, but the document was worth the wait.”

Word Origin

Scottish, late 14th century

Why this word?

A mappemonde or mappa mundi is a medieval map of the world, but the 13th-century interpretation of the world was quite different from today’s. The largest (about 5 feet by 4.5 feet) and most well-preserved mappemonde still around is the Hereford Mappa Mundi, kept under thick glass in Hereford Cathedral in England. The centerpoint of this map is Jerusalem, and the rest of the (then) known world spreads from there, but these lands are surrounded by a sea of dark. However, the most notable distinction of the mappemonde is the array of dragons and mythical creatures drawn across the world. But to the medieval mapmakers, they weren’t mythical — they were symbols of what could be found in the unexplored lands, further depicted with the text “Here Be Dragons” off the coast of what we know as East Asia.

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