Soleto Map

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The Soleto Map is an ancient map, which depicts Salento on a small piece of ostrakon derived from a terracotta vase.


The map was discovered in Soleto (southern Italy) by Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle of Montpellier University on August 21, 2003. The map itself dates back to 500 BC and contains letters derived from a Greek script. The languages expressed on the map are both Greek and Messapian. Moreover, the Soleto Map describes the city of Taranto (called Taras), as well as other cities of Salento such as Soleto, Leuca, Ugento, and Otranto. The map went on public display in 2005 at the Archaeological National Museum of Taranto.


Even though the Soleto Map is considered the oldest map in Western civilization, there are allegations that it is a forgery. In the January/February 2006 issue of the Dutch newspaper Geschiedenis Magazine, Dutch archaeologist Douwe Yntema of Vrije University in Amsterdam found the authenticity of the map questionable. Even though the ostrakon is ancient, the authenticity of the engravings are dubious. According to Yntema, the map looks like a school atlas with placenames engraved with "north" at the top. Moreover, the Soleto Map shows the towns as points rather than house symbols found on other ancient maps. Finally, the engravings follow the precise borders of the ostrakon itself, which can lead anyone to interpret the Soleto Map as being made after the terracotta vase was first broken.

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