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Ebstorf Map

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Photo of a reproduction of the Ebstorf Map, with East at the top.

The Ebstorf Map was an example of a mappa mundi (a Medieval European map of the world). It was made by Gervase of Ebstorf, who was possibly the same man as Gervase of Tilbury,[1] some time between 1234 and 1240.


The map was found in a convent in Ebstorf, northern Germany, in 1843.[2] It was a very large map, painted on 30 goatskins sewn together and measuring around 3.6 by 3.6 metres (12 ft × 12 ft)—a greatly elaborated version of the common medieval tripartite map (T and O), centered on Jerusalem with east at the top.

The head of Christ was depicted at the top of the map, with his hands on either side and his feet at the bottom.[3] Rome is represented in the shape of a lion, and the map reflects an evident interest in the distribution of bishoprics.[1]

There was text around the map, which included descriptions of animals, the creation of the world, definitions of terms, and a sketch of the more common sort of T and O map with an explanation of how the world is divided into three parts. The map incorporated both pagan and biblical history.[3]

The original was destroyed in 1943, during the Allied bombing of Hanover in World War II.[4] There survives a set of black-and-white photographs of the original map, taken in 1891, and several colour facsimiles of it were made before it was destroyed.[3]


The arguments for Gervase of Tilbury's being the mapmaker are based on the name Gervase, which was an uncommon name in Northern Germany at the time, and on some similarities between the world views of the mapmaker and Gervase of Tilbury. The editors of the Oxford Medieval Texts edition of Gervase of Tilbury's Otia Imperialia conclude that although their being the same man is an "attractive possibility", to accept it requires "too many improbable assumptions".[1]


  1. ^ a b c Gervase, of Tilbury, approximately 1211 (30 May 2002). Otia imperialia : recreation for an emperor. S. E. Banks, J. W. Binns. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. xxxiv–xxxvi. ISBN 0-19-820288-1. OCLC 47183479.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Bildhauer, Bettina; Mills, Robert (2003). The Monstrous Middle Ages. International Medieval Congress. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 77. ISBN 0-7083-1821-5. OCLC 52878148.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  3. ^ a b c Edson, Evelyn (1997). Mapping time and space : how medieval mapmakers viewed their world. British Library. London: British Library. pp. 138–139. ISBN 0-7123-4535-3. OCLC 38474419.
  4. ^ Pischke, G. (2014). Gregori, G. P. (ed.). "The Ebstorf Map: tradition and contents of a medieval picture of the world". History of Geo- and Space Sciences. 5. Copernicus Publications: 155–161. doi:10.5194/hgss-5-155-2014.

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