The Geographical System of Herodotus, Examined; and Explained…. James RENNELL.
The Geographical System of Herodotus, Examined; and Explained…
The Geographical System of Herodotus, Examined; and Explained…

The Geographical System of Herodotus…
The Geographical System of Herodotus, Examined; and Explained…

London: W. Bulmer, 1800.

Thick quarto, portrait frontispiece and eleven maps (ten folding), an excellent copy in contemporary polished calf, spine in panels with large crimson morocco labels.

Hanno the Navigator and the ancient naval empire of Carthage

Handsome copy of the scarce first edition of Major James Rennell's magisterial work on ancient geography: 'a monument of laborious research and acute and lucid criticism' (ODNB). This work is famous for its series of detailed and attractive maps of the Near East, the Mediterranean and Africa by John Walker, engraver to the Admiralty. Of particular note is Rennell's map of the voyages of the Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator (c. 500 BCE), a major voyage of discovery in west Africa and one of the earliest voyages to traverse the Pillars of Hercules in an attempt to extend maritime discovery beyond the Mediterranean.

Handsome copy of the scarce first edition of Major James Rennell's magisterial work on ancient geography: 'a monument of laborious research and acute and lucid criticism' (ODNB). This work is famous for its series of detailed and attractive maps of the Near East, the Mediterranean and Africa by John Walker, engraver to the Admiralty. Of particular note is Rennell's map of the voyages of the Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator (c. 500 BCE), a major voyage of discovery in west Africa and one of the earliest voyages to traverse the Pillars of Hercules in an attempt to extend maritime discovery beyond the Mediterranean.

Equally interesting is his map and accompanying two-chapter discussion of the purported circumnavigation of Africa by Phoenicians working for Pharaoh Necho II, a feat which Rennell was inclined to believe was possible, certainly insofar as the ancients had a knowledge of Mozambique and Sofala on the east coast. A second related map details the ocean currents from the coast of west Africa around the continent to the Arabian peninsula; Rennell was the authority on ocean currents during this period. The voyage of Necho, described in Pliny and Herodotus, was doubted by Strabo and Ptolemy, but Rennell's detailed account returned the story to some credibility, in a discussion which included his thoughts on Henry the Navigator and Columbus.

One of the most substantive aspects of the work is Rennell's continually reverting to his pioneering exposition of the ways in which Renaissance and modern discoveries were influenced by their ancient predecessors. Rennell's aim was an examination and possible reconciliation of ancient geographical knowledge, principally from Herodotus, in the perspective of modern discoveries. This scholarship is synthesised in eleven large and finely engraved folding maps, including the world view of Herodotus in two different projections and the Persian empire under Darius. The location of ancient cities, namely Memphis and Babylon, is treated in detail with attendant maps.

James Rennell (1742-1830) was one of the pre-eminent cartographers and scholars of his generation. He joined the navy at age 14 and the East India Station in 1760, undertaking three years of arduous marine survey in far east Asia. In April 1764 he was commissioned to the Bengal Engineers and worked tirelessly on the survey of the region, one of the most ambitious mapping projects ever undertaken by the East India Company. Retiring from active service in 1777, he devoted the rest of his life to historical scholarship and cartographic studies. Rennell was elected to the Royal Society in 1781 and awarded their prestigious Copley Medal ten years later (the same medal awarded to Captain Cook in 1776 for his pioneering study in alleviating scurvy).

The book was popular with contemporary readers, selling for threefold the original price within years of publication. A second edition in two volumes in was issued in 1830.

Tooley 'Dictionary of Mapmakers', pages 534 and 651.

Price (AUD): $2,750.00  other currencies     Ref: #3807767

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