Celtic Europe – Europam sive Celticam Veterem

by Abraham Ortelius


Date of first map: 1595

Date of this map:  1595

Dimensions (without margins): 35,5 x 47,7 cm

Dimensions (including margins): 45,3 x 58 cm

Condition: Good. Sharp copper engraving. Centre fold as published, flattened. Very wide margins.Old coloured. A few professional repairs of the paper at the edges of the margins. Delicate nice colouring.

Condition rating: A

Verso: text in Latin

Map reference: van der Krogt 1000:381; van den Broecke 189

From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum;  van der Krogt 31:051 (B signature)

Note: this item is exclusively offered with catalogue of Exhibition “Europa Herbezocht”, organised at the Mercatormuseum in 2017.






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Celtic Europe by Ortelius

Ortelius published two maps of the continent of Europe in his Parergon: one about Roman Europe, the other – from 1595 – on Celtic Europe. The info for this map is said to come from Salustius, Pliny, Herodotus, Strabo and Dionysius. In his source material Ortelius refers to the common Celtic background of the Europeans. The map is also derived from Ortelius’ two sheet map of the Roman Empire issued in 1571.

It is difficult to indicate which moment in ancient times Ortelius wanted to record, since he mentioned the Celtic areas (Gallia, Raeti, Noricum) and many Germanic tribes at the same time:

  • The Goths are patiently waiting in the south of Scandinavia to move further south.
  • The Saxons sit between Weser and Elbe rivers and partly migrate to Great Britain in the 5th century.
  • The Cimbri, another Germanic tribe, have just started their wanderings through Europe from Jutland to be destroyed by the Romans at Vercellae (Vercelli) in 101 BC.
  • The Burgundians are placed a little too far to the East where they have never been. Around the 1st century they were at the lower reaches of the Vistula to attack the Roman Empire around 250. They settled a century later in an area between Basel and Avignon.
  • The Germanic Nortmanni in central Scandinavia will plunder the British Isles and the Netherlands respectively in the 8th and 9th centuries.

Furthermore and further east Ortelius shows the Scythians and the Sarmatians, Iranian nomad peoples, who will later be largely absorbed by the Slavs.

The map becomes an overall print of antiquity where time and space intertwine.

Some cities with Latin name are mentioned such as Lutetia, Col. Agripp., Burdegala (Bordeaux), Carthago nova (Cartagena) Boiodurum (Innstadt-bei-Passau), Taurunum (now part of Belgrade), Strido (Stridon near Ljubljana) and Aqua Solis (Bath).