CULTURE

The results of traditional skills and modern mapping techniques

The volume deals with 16 places, which are apparently independent of each other, but the chapters revolve around a central theme. «The approach taken is investigatory, introductory and panoramic. The themes are interconnected and interrelated so as to create a uniform whole, which is intended, first of all, for the general public, but also to attract the interest of specialists,» says Livieratos. The main theme concerns changes in the depiction of Athos and the other peninsulas. The other 15 subjects fit into three cycles. The first cycle refers to the «holy» dimension of cartographic portrayals of Athos: pictures of pilgrimages; «The Virgin Mary on the Map,» «The Holy Twin of Greece» – an interesting twin picture by Coronelli linking the ancient and Christian worlds, and a piece on the marvelous sketches by German humanist Martinus Crusius. The second cycle includes a synthesis of details of Athos in Ptolemaic geography, a chapter on «Athos of the Islands,» and another on the enigmatic issue of utopia. The tradition of relief cartography, a product of modern skills, has a chapter of its own, examining recent technology used to show original images of natural shadows caused by the sun on Athos. That section closes with a chapter on the mission of Petro Ivanovic Sevastianov, who made exceptional topographic charts of Athos, presented here for the first time, and processed by new cartographic techniques. The third cycle contains the most specific cartographic images, with related texts on topics such as the contemporary organization and distribution of maps, small-scale farming, the rural environment and placenames. This includes important comments on the changes of placenames on Athos over the ages, as can be seen in maps from different eras and places of origin. Other brief articles of particular interest include the depiction of Mount Athos in the map by Rigas, compared to Western models; the maps of Porphyrios Uspensky, Gerasimos Smyrnakis, the impressions of Petros Ivanovic Sevastianov and the work of Choiseul-Gouffler – which comes closest to modern methods – in the late 18th century on the neck of the Athos peninsula where Xerxes cut a canal. The book contains maps of the mountain made by modern methods and dominated by a relief of the Athos peninsula as seen in natural sunlight and shade.