• Asa Simon Mittman, “Reexamining the Vercelli Map,” Ordinare il mondo. Diagrammi e simboli nelle pergamene di Vercelli, ed. Timoty Leonardi and Marco Rainini (Milan: Vita Pensiero, 2019)

    Asa Simon Mittman (see profile)
    Timoty Leonardi, Marco Rainini
    Medieval English Literature, Medieval Studies
    Middle Ages, Archaeology, Medieval
    Item Type:
    map, Medieval history, Medieval studies, Mapping, Medieval archaeology
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    The Vercelli map, bluntly put, is in very poor shape (Tav. VIII). The map was found by Carlo Errera in 1908, while he was «putting in order the archive of the Chapter of Vercelli: Nobody before had paid attention to it, because it was inventoried by a hand of the eighteenth century as an old sketch of a synoptic picture»1. It has survived the past eight hundred years, but has been deeply scarred by them. The sides are lost, eaten away. The text is faded and blurred and, in places, just gone. The images are similarly compromised, with faded color and hazy details. Scholar- ship on the map, limited though it is, presents a litany of sorrows. A brief chronological survey gives a clear impression: the earliest publication on the map is a brief notice announcing its discovery by Errera in Rivista Geografica Italiana (1911). This unsigned notice states that «è miniato su di una pergamena lacera e strappata sugli orli» [«It is illuminated on a parchment that is tattered, with edges torn»]2. Errera soon followed this with a brief article, in which he states, «la pergamena, lacera e strappata nell’orlo superiore e nell’inferiore, si conserva integra negli altri due lati [...] mentre nel rimanente giro della figura parte non piccola di essa è andata irreparabilmente perduta» [«The parchment, tattered and torn in the upper and lower rim, is preserved intact on the other two sides [...] around the figure no small part of it is irretrievably lost at this date»]3. This passage is a bit puzzling, since Errera knew that the map is oriented to the east and that the losses are much heavier at the sides than on the top and bottom («L’orientamento appare essere coll’Est inalto, conforme al consueto» [«The orientation appears to be with east at the top, conforming to the norm»]). He further notes that it has suf- fered «l’ingiuria del tempo» [«the ravages of time»]4.
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