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Old January 4th, 2013, 06:28 PM   #1

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Monsters in Maps


Why were 'monsters' put on maps? Were they there to scare people? To represent danger?
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Have you seen more maps like these?
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Old January 4th, 2013, 06:44 PM   #2

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Why were 'monsters' put on maps? Were they there to scare people? To represent danger?

"So geographers, in Africa maps,
With savage pictures fill their gaps,
And o'er uninhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns”
-Jonathan Swift
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:18 AM   #3

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They're a regular feature on old maps, these are from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, I was there last night.
http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collect...=maps;start=30

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.


Some of the features are real, There's a famous whirlpool somewhere around Norway which was a real phenomenon. Tho I think the sea bed must have changed as the maelstrom is no longer there.

Moskstraumen Moskstraumen

Click the image to open in full size.

The maelstrom off Norway, as illustrated by Olaus Magnus on the Carta Marina, 1539


Presumably the monsters are large sea creatures or whales, sailors of course are very superstitious so any odd creature washed ashore was probably evidence of the Leviathan.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:22 AM   #4

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'Here be dragons' is a famous phrase from old maps and surely represents crocodiles and their relatives?
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:22 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjadams View Post
Why were 'monsters' put on maps? Were they there to scare people? To represent danger?
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Have you seen more maps like these?
Where gaps of knowledge exist, we fill it in with our imagination. I imagine they put them there because they thought they were real.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:24 AM   #6

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Spooky! I'm staying home!!
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:29 AM   #7

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Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Here's the monsters, see one of those things washed up and the whole village would be out to see it.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 05:31 AM   #8

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Unless that portion of the map happened to represent the island of Komodo.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 08:54 AM   #9

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All sorts of weird things have washed up on the shore through the ages and an illiterate and ignorant peasantry must have conjured up all sorts of apocalyptic beasties to explain them.
Given the fact that marine life can dramatically alter form when dead and decaying outside of its natural environment we can forgive them their fevered imaginations.

Globster Globster


Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.


All these 'things' were originally sharks or cetaceans (dolphins, whales etc), the blubber and cartilage in the body breaks down into hair like fibres which then turns gelatinous. Meanwhile certain parts of the skeleton either shift position or drop away completely, giving the corpse a completely different appearance.

ps. These pictures remind me of an ex girlfriends attempts at 'cuisine'. I was never a picky eater but I am now.
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Old January 5th, 2013, 09:00 AM   #10

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When early sailors saw sites like the one below I very much doubt their first thought was
"Ah I bet he's friendly"

Click the image to open in full size.
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