Today, with things going digital and online, we have maps, GPS, and satellite imagery of the globe at our fingertips. But that wasn’t always the case. More than 400 years ago, it was May 20, 1570 when Abraham Ortelius published the world’s first modern atlas. It was called “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” (Theatre of the world), and Google is remembering the Abraham Ortelius by dedicating him a special doodle.
Abraham Ortelius was born on April 4 1527, in the city of Antwerp, which was Habsburg Netherlands earlier, and now Belgium. Ortelius worked as a map engraver and he traveled to Europe several times on business trips, which made him familiar with the locations and local customs. His atlas brought geographical maps together.
Ortelius’s atlas is significant for a couple of reasons. Within the pages, the first evidence of the phenomenon of continental drift was recorded. The theory suggests that the continents were previously joined together before drifting apart in their present-day positions.
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Before publishing the “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum,” he had first published his map in 1564, after which he became the foremost cartographer during his era. And a year after publishing the atlas in 1570, he released the legendary world map comprising of 53 decorative maps, and some of them were adorned with sea monsters.
Ortelius died in 1598, which marked a public mourning in Antwerp, and today, his original maps are collector’s items that sell for tens of thousands.