Abraham Ortelius was one of the greatest of Dutch geographers and cartographers, born in Antwerp in 1527. He worked as a map dealer and cartographer and is world known by the fact that he published the first world atlas, “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum”, which was the first collection of maps in the shape of a book. In its time, “Theatrum” was so successful, that it had to be re-printed 4 times in the first year of its publishing alone. Between 1570 and 1612 the atlas was published in 42 editions and the 7 languages Latin, German, Flemish, French, Spanish, English and Italian. It proved to be an enormous success.
Also, Ortelius is significant as he was the first cartographer who named the sources of his maps by mentioning other cartographers. He had the ability and diplomacy to convince other cartographers to unify around one common agreement on how to make maps of the world. In this way new work could be much more effective and new ideas could take off from a greater understanding of the whole.
Ortelius was the first who came up with the theory of continental drift; he thought he could see how the Americas were “torn” away from Europe and Africa.
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