Segments in this Video

Albi's Mappa Mundi: History of the Map (03:47)


An antique document from the ages of antiquity and Renaissance will be studied in Paris for its historical secrets. The city of Albi was a hub of intellectual knowledge in ancient times and housed a scriptorium where texts of scientific, biblical, historical, and other significance were copied and distributed.

Mappa Mundi (05:17)

The manuscript houses one the oldest world maps. It is transported to the Museum of Natural History in Paris. Paleographer Archivist Jocelyne Deschaux discusses the importance of the document and condition of the parchment.

Scientific Study of the Mappa (05:30)

Medieval Historians question the origin of the manuscript. Deschaux and Sandrine Victor hope to find what the parchment is made of by cross-referencing with scientists, physicists, and chemists. They review the document with scientist Laurianne Robinet and her team.

Writers of the Document (06:13)

Antiquity Historian Anca Dan takes the research further back than the eighth century to understand the map; she sees Eucherius Lyon and Paul Horus both wrote a significant amount in the beginning of the document. As Bishop of Lyon, Eucherius wrote about the barbarian and Christian dynamic in his description of the ancient world.

Analyzing the Mappa (03:49)

Patrick Gautier Dalche discovered a text which describes Mappa Bobbio which Dan uses to study similarities between the Mappa Mundi and the lost Bobbio. Deschaux and her team study the thickness of the parchment and use microscopic photography and a hyperspectral camera to study its homogeneity finding it is varnished, sheepskin parchment.

Copying the Map (05:40)

Dan and her associate Bruno Dumezil study the Mappa at the Sorbonne, discussing the copyist's orientation of the document. With the barbaric societies surrounding the civilized, Christian societies, Dumezil theorizes the Mappa represents the spread of religion; the map is not used for travel but for economic relations and to nourish contemplative prayer.

Pigment Significance (04:20)

Using a non-invasive pigmentation analysis, Stephane Vaialedish examines the parchments chemical elements beneath a fluorescent x-ray machine. Deschaux explains the blue vegetable dye used in the Mappa made Albi profitable; chlorine sulfur, calcium, potassium, and iron make up the conventional Gaelic ink used by Romans.

Studying Green Seas (04:18)

To honor Athena the goddess who guided Ulysses, the ancients of antiquity used green dye, the color of her eyes, to represent the sea. Dan theorizes the symbols and rivers on the Mappa are barriers used to represent Christianity's spread.

Preserving the Map (03:22)

To study the maps longevity, Deschaux goes to Ecole Polytechnique to analyze the collagen within the map. Gael Latour makes an optical cut to study the parchment layer by layer to find the degraded areas, but discovers the Mappa's preservation is not in danger.

Mapping Religion (03:14)

The creators of the Mappa Mundi used proximity to the Romans to represent a barbaric group's likelihood of civilization. Bruno says the cartographers wished to show the barbarian world dominated by Christians in medieval times.

Future Mappa Studies (04:12)

Deschaux returns the parchment to the library into the UNESCO program, and she is at peace knowing its existence instinctively raises questions and its preservation will be maintained. Sandrine believes new ideas mixed with old will help uncover the origin and importance of Albi’s Mappa Mundi.

Credits: Albi's Mappa Mundi (00:45)

Credits: Albi's Mappa Mundi

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Albi’s Mappa Mundi – the World of Yesterday

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In an ancient town in the southwest of France lies a “treasure”: Albi’s Mappa Mundi. Dating from the 8th century and included in a manuscript, this map is the oldest known representation of the world as a whole. How was it made? Why is its shape so particular? What exactly does it describe? What was its purpose? To answer these questions, historians, paleographers and scientists conduct a minute investigation and, step by step, the Mappa Mundi reveals its secrets.

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL143055

ISBN: 978-1-64198-287-0

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

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