Gerhard Mercator's maps as a source of geographical knowledge about Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and surrounding countries in the 16th century

Mirko Grčić

Abstract


The author considers the issue of the conceptualization of the geographical space that is known today as the Western Balkans on Gerhard Mercator's maps from the second half of the 16th century, from which, even in cases of incorrect cartographic representations, it is possible to conclude about the changes of certain geographical objects and phenomena in the past time. Two Mercator maps were analysed: Sclavonia, Croatia, Bosnia cum Dalmatiae parte, and Walachia, Servia, Bvlgaria, Romania, both from 1589. The characteristics, symbols and context of Mercator's cartographic representations of relief, hydrography, settlements and other geographical phenomena are discussed. Special attention was paid to the cartographic registration of river courses and settlements. The distortion of surfaces and wrong representations in the positioning of some geographical objects were pointed out, which should be taken into account when identifying individual toponyms on Mercator's maps. The author tries to reconstruct the meaning of toponyms and determine the deviations of the cartographic perception from the actual distribution of the elements of the geographical space, as well as the causes that caused these deviations. The author also gives an overview of toponyms in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and surrounding countries and identifies their modern meaning. The study of Mercator's maps is of interest today for researchers of the historical geography of the network of settlements and toponymy of the Balkan countries in the 15th and 16th century.

Key words: old geographical maps, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Balkans, historical geography, toponymy

© 2022 Serbian Geographical Society, Belgrade, Serbia.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Serbia.


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