1530s Iceland: Reykjahlíð vs. Saxa and Scalholdin. Vanished cities?


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The singular is "saxum" for stone, "saxa" is the plural "stones". Usually large stones, not small pebbles.


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Maybe something in this which may help understand why or where Olaus got at least some of his information from The Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus

The similarity between saxa and saxo is remarkable.

Ha Am I barking at the moon?
For a long time, the missing name of Saxo from the Munich copy of the Carta marina has been considered to be the only difference between the two known copies.

Wading through this book A briefe commentarie of Island: wherein the 0errors of such as haue written concerning this Island, are detected, an9ad the slanders, and reproches of certaine strangers, which they haue vsed ouer-boldly against the people of Island are confuted.
and with the aid of google translate this came up which suggests saxa(o) is referring to rocks
Ergo incerta ferens raptim vestigia, anhelus
Spiritus incursat, nunc huc, nunc percitus illuc,
Explorátque abitum insistens, & singula tentat,
Si qua forte queat victis erumpere claustris.
Interea tremit ingentem factura ruinam
Terra, suis quatiens latas cum moenibus vrbes:
Dissiliunt auulsa iugis immania saxa, &c.

English translation in the online book
The stirrng breath runnes on with stealing steppes,
vrged now vp, and now enforced downe:
For freedome eke tries all, it skips, it leaps,
to ridde it selfe from vncouth dungeon.
Then quakes the earth as it would burst anon,
The earth yquakes, and walled cities quiuer.
Strong quarries cracke, and stones from hilles doe shiuer

translate.googles effort
The risks of taking rapid steps, panting
Spirit countered, now here, now there excited;
Exploratque outlet to a stop, and every test,
If by any chance the vanquished, is able to break out of the prison.
Meanwhile, fears making great fall
Earth, with its broad shaking the walls of cities;
Auulsa bursts lasting huge rocks, Sec.
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Just thinking in general here. The maps, separate descriptions aside, suggest that there was no snow at the time depicted. Which is not necessarily the time “published”.

With Greenland covered by snow for “thousands of years” according to the narrative... these 2 map could be an explanation for the “Green”land portion.


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I will live this map here

Iceland - Egnazio Danti - Google Arts & Culture

And what we see here PIRAMIDI
Very interesting. The chap in question was a map copier as far as I have been able to uncover.

I screenshotted the words turned the image black and white, copied them out and stuck them into google which detected Italian not Latin and it threw out this translation

piramidi nelle qualigli antichi a quelta Isota f* gli Asiati
pyramids in the ancient aspects of that Isota the Asiati (the word beginning with f doesn't translate into anything)


The only Isola I've yet found is this one off the coast of Sicily EDEN PARK self-hotel == VULCANO E ISOLE EOLIE
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Potted history taken from this lengthy page Egnatio Danti (1536-1586)
Egnatio Pellegrino Rainaldi Danti

Born: April 1536 in Perugia (now Italy)
Died: 19 October 1586 in Alatri (now Italy)

Egnatio Danti was given the name Pellegrino Danti when he was baptised on 29 April 1536 and only took on the name Egnatio (often written Ignazio) when he entered the Dominican Order in 1555.

Both his father, Guilio Danti, and grandfather, Pier Vincenzo Rainaldi (Danti), were goldsmiths and architects who had written works on art.
Egnatio's brother Vincenzo, who was six years older, became famous as a sculptor who was strongly influenced by Michelangelo.
At the age of 18, on 7 March 1555, Egnatio Danti entered the Dominican Order having already attended courses at the University of Perugia.

In 1562 he was asked by Cosimo I de' Medici, the second duke of Florence, to prepare maps and a huge terrestrial globe which is still preserved.

The maps were hung on the walls in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

During his time in Tuscany Danti had continued his interest in astronomy and in particular he had designed a number of astronomical instruments. Two of his instruments were set up in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence to make accurate determinations of the vernal equinox so that he could determine the error in the calendar.
In order to calibrate the astronomical year Danti had to calculate accurately the height of the noon sun, which he achieved by making a small hole in the round window of the church to act as a camera obscura. Later he made another hole higher up the south facing facade of the church and, to allow the light to strike this hole, he had to cut a slot in the vault of the church which can still be seen today.

In 1574, using his various instruments, Danti detected the 11 day error in the calendar when he calculated the vernal equinox to have fallen on 11 March rather than on 22 March as it should for the calendar to be in step with the seasons.

In 1580 Gregory XIII appointed Danti as Papal Cosmographer and Mathematician and so he went to Rome where he also served on the commission to reform the calendar.

He ended his career back in the church being appointed Bishop of Alatri in Campagna in 1583. It was an appointment made by Pope Gregory XIII in appreciation of the work which Danti had undertaken for him in Rome.

So his map making was done in two separate phases, for two separate patrons. First a Medici then a pope.

Echoes of the Bishop of Upsalla and Tycho Brahe.

From here Cartographer, astronomer and great Dominican: Egnazio Danti
Meanwhile in Florence, the successor of the Grand Duke Cosimo, Francesco I broke off all relations with Danti. Invited in Rome by Pope Gregory XIII Danti worked with great passion to the making of the Vatican maps, becoming the official pontifical mathematician and member of the commission for the reformation of the former Giulian calendar. He also followed up the works of other painters called by the Pope, to continue after Raphael, to draw the maps of Italian territories.

from the google page containing the map
The scroll reads: "The island of Tile, today called Iceland that is glacial land, was very celebrated by the ancients who thought it was the last part inhabited of the artic pole. The land is very mountainous and the flat lands offer wonderful pastures so they have all sorts of livestock. There is a mountain that always burns and it is believed to be the mouth of hell, since you can often hear sounds of people screaming coming out of it."

This fellow is yet another 'religious man' writing out history 'on the fly' or so it seems to me.

From here Della Dora on Fiorani, 'The Marvel of Maps: Art, Cartography and Politics in Renaissance Italy' | H-HistGeog | H-Net
As Fiorani convincingly shows, the Florentine duke, who had made the cosmos central to his own iconography through the motto "Cosmos Cosmoi Cosmos" (the Cosmos is Cosimo's Ornament), had a particular fascination with cosmography. "A means to universal knowledge and global control," this discipline became an increasingly appealing entertainment to Renaissance rulers and led to a close relationship between the Dominican friar and cosmographer Egnazio Danti and his Florentine patron (pp. 41-43).

Of particular interest is Fiorani's analysis of the Maps' Gallery, that part of Danti's Vatican work best known to the public. Danti's forty monumental frescoed maps provided visitors to the Vatican Palace with a papal interpretation of Church history. As was customary in the Renaissance, Ptolemaic geography was used as a "naturalizing" link between disparate historical events reaching from Classical antiquity to the modern period, from the Church of Constantine to that of Gregory XIII

Danti's work certainly remains a unique achievement in Renaissance cartography.

From here Egnazio Danti | Musings on Maps

When the cycle of consecutive painted maps, each three meters wide, was designed by the mathematician Danti in the Vatican palace at the request of Pope Gregory XIII from 1577 to 1581, a map of “Italy” already existed in print. But the sequence of maps that were organized in a “Gallery” that allowed the reforming pontiff to view the peninsula and nearby islands.

The project of mapping the region lay partly in the bravura ambitions of the Dominican cartographer, who travelled in the circuits of more than a few Reformation cardinals, but the ambitious reforming Pope.

It is emblematic of the conversion of a cartographical to a pictorial register in Danti’s larger enterprise: for Danti converted the static conventions of cartographical representation to a living landscape, as much as acting as a state cartographer. In an age of the reproduction of printed maps, the most lavish of which were hand-colored or colored by printed blocks, the lavishly painted cycle of maps was an exercise in opulence, for whose construction it seems no expense was spared in its execution and planning: striking in its rich blues and vibrant greens, the set of maps that draw from a range of nautical maps and terrestrial charts present an abundant landscape from the facing maps of the peninsula viewers of the cycle encounter.

Danti was a skilled cartographer who had created several painted maps of the world’s regions, modeled after the regional maps of the Venetian cartographer Gastaldi, for Cosimo I, as well as other painted regional maps for prominent churchmen in the previous decade.

Seems the Iceland map was done for Medici not the Pope and it seems to have been a copy of Ortelius's map.
Post automatically merged:

Medici's map room Hall of Geographical Maps

Of the 53 maps eventually completed, 30 were painted by Dominican friar Egnazio Danti (1564-1575) and 23 by Olivetan monk Stefano Bonsignori (1575-1586). Twenty-seven were taken from Ptolemy's Geographia (2nd century AD) though they were updated to reflect contemporary writing, while the others, including those of America, were taken from a variety of more recent sources.
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Okay, so im from iceland so i can actually read the maps, and i have been looking at them for two days now and after my research i have concluded 2 things and i will show you what has lead me to those conclusions

1 Scalholden is inland on the western half of iceland
2 saxa is not referring to runestones and pyramids is referring to peculiarly shaped mountains

point number one!
my first conclusion is based on the orientation of the maps
if you look at the location of "vestrabord" literally meaning "wester 'bord?'" i dont know the bord part. Vestrabord probably refers to the general area and coast since on the opposite side of iceland there is "Ostrabord" and again 'ostra' means eastern
there is still speculation if these used to refer to specific settlements but now Ostrabord refers to the area whilst Vestrabord is no longer used at all

what this really means is so far we have had the maps oriented east to west
the second part of this is showing that its inland which was easier to find out than the whole east west thing


Heres a photo you used but you used it to show that its said Skálholt is just the modern spelling
but what is said here is "out in the country side do these names stand: Scalhodin, in the center of the land on the western part = Skálholt"
but this text might be based on the preconceived notion that scalholdin is the modern town, so lets look what the maps say




I havent rotated any of these or flipped them to match a correct orientation but you will notice they are all surrounded by mountains, most of them just show them in the north but we see scalholdin placed inland
i mean, guys, there is too many maps for me to compare them all so im just going to go straight to the outliers who dont show Scalholdin in the center
the only one i can really find is De Islanda Insvla, which to be fair was 1 drawn in italy 2 does not have degrees marked on or a scale and 3 does not have an official author
its a trouble some map and i dont know what to make of it
it shows Scalholdin directly north above Skálholt
this is extra strange if you consider that in other depictions its surrounded by mountains in all directions especially! the north
my solution here is to assume that the anonymous author of the map simply got it wrong because i cant figure out a way around that one

now i get to my second point

when i had narrowed down the location to being somewhere central west iceland i decided to take another look at the maps
on google maps i went into street view to take a look at the landscape from the ground and...



would you look at those peaks

I saw them whilst looking around in the larger circle top right
and if that does not solve "saxa" for you then heres some cairns and other rocky things i found while looking around



all of this brings me to the conclusion that Scalholdin is Skálholt
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