Fascinating Cross-Section of the Earth
"Systema Ideale quo Exprimitur, Aquarum per Canales Hydragogos Subterraneos ex Mari et in Montium Hydrophylacia Protrusio...", Kircher, Athanasius
Subject: Cartographic Miscellany, Earth
Period: 1682 (published)
Publication: D'Onder-Aardse Weereld
Color: Hand Color
15.9 x 12.9 inches
40.4 x 32.8 cm
The Jesuit scholar Athanasius Kircher was one of the first compilers of semi-scientific knowledge about the physical features of the world. This unusual copper engraving shows a cross-section of the earth's interior with its magma core and underground water sources. The surface of the earth is shown with mountain ranges, erupting volcanoes, and ships sailing in the oceans. Clouds and four wind-heads surround the sphere. A decorative title cartouche held aloft by putti completes the fanciful composition. This is from a Dutch edition of Kircher's masterpiece, Mundus Subterraneus (Subterranean World), an immense and amazing work covering all aspects of anything that dwelled or occurred within the earth's interior - from dragons, to fossils, to mountain springs, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
For a more in-depth look at Kircher's life and work please see our article from November 2015 and a recent blog from the Library of Congress.
References: Kanas #7.2 and figure 7.3.
A nice impression on watermarked paper with light toning along the edges of the sheet and a narrow top margin, as issued. There is light printer's ink residue in the text below the engraving.