Christian Faith: Hereford’s Mappa Mundi (1300)

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This map from England’s Hereford Cathedral depicts “what the world looked like to medieval Christians,” Brotton says. The organizing principle in the east-oriented map is time, not space, and specifically biblical time; with Christ looming over the globe, the viewer travels spiritually from the Garden of Eden at top down to the Pillars of Hercules near the Strait of Gibralter at bottom (for a more detailed tour, check out this¬†handy guide¬†to the map’s landmarks). At the center is Jerusalem, marked with a crucifix, and to the right is Africa, whose coast is dotted with grotesque monsters in the margins. “Once you get to the edges of what you know, those are dangerous places,” Brotton explains.

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