Gog and Magog on mappaemundi and early printed world maps:
Orientalizing ethnography in the apocalyptic tradition
The Alexander legend of later antiquity, based broadly on Josephu¬s= recounting, tells how Alexander, marching eastward, came upon wild peoples (feras gentes) or unclean peoples (immundas gentes), who ate human flesh and had other equally vile customs. To keep them from destroying the rest of the world, Alexander drove them between two mountains, then asked God to push the two mountains together and im¬prison them. This story found its way not only into later versions of the Alexander legend, but also into the Qur=an2 and the influential Greek Revelations of Pseudo-Methodius, which date from the end of the seventh century 3. Around 700 C.E., this latter text was translated into Latin by the monk Peter in Merovingian Gaul and very widely disseminated in the west, where it became a standard of Christian apo¬calypticism 4. In this version, the unclean peoples originally thought to have been enclosed by Alexander were identified with Gog and Magog, the apocalyptic de¬stroyers of Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20,8. The pseudo-Methodian Revelations enjoyed an uninterrupted popularity; they were printed in numerous editions during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Gog and Magog were, in all these versions, enclosed only temporarily: at the end of time, God would allow them to escape from their eastern prison and devastate Chris¬tendom. The Revelations of Pseudo-Metho¬dius also prophesied that the Antichrist would deceive and gather in the scattered Jews to Jerusalem, where they would serve him as their Messiah. This vilification is easily recognized as a hostile reading of the apocryphal fourth book of Ezra. It originated in the prophecy of the Tiburtine Sibyl and would prove to be prophetic regarding the medieval development of the story of Gog and Magog: here apocalypticism met anti¬semitism, in which it found unusually fertile soil.
The famous Historia de preliis magni Alexandri started out with the title Nativitas et victoria Alexandri Magni. This was a tenth-century Latin translation of the Greek Alexander romance by the Pseudo-Callisthenes. It proved very popular in Latin and in numerous vernacular translations, and was printed early on as the Historia de preliis Alexandri magni 5. The later, interpolated versions of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, especially I3 (between 1185 and 1236), describe the enclosure of Gog and Magog by Alexander to protect the world from these savage nations. This story was a >best-seller= throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern era. It was printed in numerous versions, both Latin and vernacular.
Not only did versions of these canonical= texts continue to circulate until well past the Reformation, the stories they contained seeped into all manner of medieval exegetical and literary works. Gog and Magog became a topos of salvation-history 6. Of considerable historical interest is the frequency with which Gog and Magog appeared on early world maps 7. Their survival on world maps well beyond the point at which the dominant cultural and intellectual discourses had cast strong doubts on their existence is also worth exploring. Mapmakers are notoriously conservative, but the continued appearance of Gog and Magog on late-sixteenth and seventeenth-century maps demands more of an explanation, which in turn requires a history of the theme itself.
Edward Said has argued that to "orientalize" is to push objects eastward until they either recede from consciousness or suffer from the moral opprobrium accorded to things oriental. The "us" and "they" which Said's theory helps to explain seem to be permanent features of human society. "They" can easily come to be seen not only as physically and morally different from a putative "us" but as not fully human. The cultural "other", located in the East, supposedly reflected in its physical deformities and aberrations the degeneracy and moral deformity of Islam. However, this east-west dynamic concerns not only Christendom and Islam. Many other religions and religious shadings found a place in the moral topography of the mappamundi: Hindus ("Brahmans"), Mongols, Nestorians, pagans and Jews, to name the most prominent ones 8.The basic principle behind Said's analysis seems to hold true for the bulk of medieval world maps. The Biblical and later tradition according to which evil comes from the north (e.g., Gog from the land of Magog; the very real Scyths, etc.) also deserves mention as part of the moral topography of medieval mapping: "septentrionalism" complements and potentiates "orientalism" and gets us closer than Said can to the moral co-ordinate system of later antique and medieval Christendom 9.
Important sources for traditional cartography are to be found in literary, exegetical and theological texts, and in many other contexts. Out of these grew mapmakers' depictions of the legendary peoples Gog and Magog. The sheer antiquity of this tradition 10 suggests that even before the west had very much of a clear identity, the Gog and Magog story was part of the rich fund of story and lore inherited from antiquity and cherished--if somewhat tattered by frequent handling--until the advent of more sceptical and critical approaches to tradition and authority. Thus, western identity, from its earliest beginnings, rests on this and other such views concerning "who was out there" and who was not "us". Tradition, especially of the hallowed Biblical and quasi-biblical sort, defines both form and content for the middle ages and for the early modern centuries, periods that share much more than religious unrest and bad sanitation.
The imagined break between the medieval and early modern periods that has for so long been located in 1492 (Atlantic perspective) or 1500 (textbook periodization) or 1517 (dawn of the [Protestant] modern world) is as misleading for the history of cartography as for that of culture, religion or politics. Marcel Destombes' monumental Mappemondes A.D. 1200-1500 11 gave up rather arbitrarily at the latter date, though quite "modern" maps (e.g., the Ptolomaic maps of the later fifteenth century) appeared well before 1500 and some largely "medieval" maps (including many topographically more accurate maps that continued the orientalizing and apocalyptic ethnography of previous centuries) were made after that date. The period of transition from mappaemundi to empirical cartography, the era of the so-called cosmographic maps, is at the centre of this study. However, continuities are as important as change. Continuity is not the context or background against which putatively 'modernizing' change takes place. It is the "walking bass" of pre-modern cultural history and as such, a powerful determinant in the dynamic that pits 'empirical evidence' against tradition, experiment against authority
Late medieval and early modern world maps of the non-Ptolomaic variety, especially the cosmographic sort, were heavily indebted to their immediate "medieval" predecessors and models. This is especially true of lesser-known areas that usually appeared at map margins, where the cartographer re-inscribed, consciously or not, and usually without much critical reflection, that which tradition declared must be there. On early-modern maps, European cartographers kept alive via classicizing images an older and parallel view of the outside world and its inhabitants 12. The interplay between tradition and knowledge gained by direct observation or from reliable empirical sources reveals the process of cultural negotiation that produced "modern" cartography; what seemed to be "sound empirical knowledge" was contingent upon, even fundamentally formed, by cultural preconceptions and moral connotations rooted in a traditional carto-ethnographic "science". Neither ornaments nor fossils, such morsels of undigested medievalia cannot be dismissed as hold-outs on the road to empirical science. They were rooted in the authorized learning of their sources and models, even though such sources were starting to be questioned. The cultural history of cartography can therefore be read and understood from maps' margins as well as from the 'centre'.
To trace this interplay, to make sense of long-term continuities and the extraordinarily long-lived influence of tradition, we must undertake a history of culture over the longue duree--even if only via a narrow slice. Not individual maps' cartographic genealogies, but the cultural genealogies of maps' contents are crucial to this kind of study13. Anna-Dorothee von den Brincken has dealt briefly with the legend of Gog and Magog on world maps 14 but a great deal remains to be done.
A complication I have explored elsewhere15 is that by the twelfth century, western Christians had by and large come to believe a number of things about Gog and Magog: they were the same as the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel; they had been enclosed behind an impenetrable wall until the end of time by Alexander; they would break out at the time of Antichrist and devastate the world 16. While world maps often record a variant based on this conflation as "iudei clausi" or "iudei inclusi",17 many place both these imaginary Jews and Gog and Magog in the far north-eastern part of Asia 18.
Late-antique and medieval world maps, from Jerome's map of the Orient 19 to the Catalan atlas of 1375, generally used the term Gog and Magog to refer to the much-storied apocalyptic destroyers. Other genres, especially those produced for a more general (particularly a vernacular) readership, tended after 1200 to refer to the ten tribes, the Red Jews, etc. Later maps commonly use the terms iudei clause or inclusi, mirroring a different mindset more oriented toward social realities and conflicts 20. However, throughout this period, G&M usually appear in the far north and/or east, often in a separate peninsula or surrounded by a wall, a mountain chain or kept in by a gate. Later medieval and early modern maps continue the tradition, but with significant differences.
Gog and Magog appeared on Arabian maps as "Yajoj wa Majoj" from the tenth century 21 they appear on Al-Idrisi's map of 1154 under the same names. What direct influence Arabic maps can have had on later western cartography is hard to tell, but Al-Idrisi's map, made as a metal plate for Roger of Sicily, was famous a name="R22">22.
The British Library's Cotton Map (early eleventh century) places G&M hard by the northern ocean, west of the Caspian Sea; the ten tribes appear in the middle east 23. Comestor had not yet identified these peoples with one another. The two legends are treated separately, as in patristic literature. In the twelfth century, a mappamundi that was until recently attributed to Henry of Mainz put G&M on a peninsula surrounded by mountains and blocked at its south end by a wall, 24 suggesting the Alexander story was the source of this detail. A map in the 1120 Ghent ms. of the Liber Floridus 25 by Lambert de Saint-Omer (c. 1050-1125) is labelled "Globus terre" and "Augustinus elementa mundi". In the north-east corner, surrounded by a semicircular ring of water, called mare caspium, is an island on which are the words "gog magog": another reference to the Alexander legend 26.This seems to fit well with the contemporary view of Gervase of Tilbury (c.1150-c.1220), who wrote in his Otia imperialia (a collection of geography, history and curiosities, composed around 1212 for the entertainment of Otto IV), that in India there is a Mons Caspius, after which the Caspian Sea is called, between which and the [same] sea Gog and Magog, most savage peoples, were enclosed by Alexander 27.The far east is still psychologically very far off indeed in the twelfth century, the original context of this map. The position of Gog and Magog, just beyond "Babilon", in or at the edge of the Caspian Sea, bespeaks a view of a much smaller world than the one later maps (such as those of Ebstorf and Hereford) would represent. A less clear reference to the Alexander legend appears on the London Psalter map (second half of the thirteenth century): in the north-east, a mountain chain in which a large gate is placed separates an unnamed region from the rest of the world 28.
The Ebstorf 29 and Hereford world maps (between 1214 and 1273 30 and between 1276 and 1305, resp.) are very similar and may derive from a common source. As in the Revelations of the Pseudo-Methodius, Gog and Magog (on the Ebstorf map) are cannibals; they are pictured in the midst of an north-eastern area walled-off by mountains through which a passage, named "Porte Caspie", leads. The creatures are eating human body parts (recognizable as feet and hands) and drinking the blood flowing out of them; a footless, handless victim is also depicted. According to the caption, Alexander enclosed two wild nations, Gog and Magog, who will be the companions of Antichrist. They eat human flesh and drink human blood 31. The Turks (Islam!) are also written into this hostile ethnography: on the edge of the map, but in Europe, is the caption "The city and island of Taraconta which is inhabited by Turks of the race of Gog and Magog, a barbarous and wild people who eat the flesh of young people and aborted foetuses." This is a traditional story taken from Ethicus Ister. On the other hand, charges of cannibalism levelled against the Jews of Fulda in 1235--an early example of the ritual murder libel--provide a vivid backdrop to the cannibalism depicted on the Ebstorf map and suggest that the identification of Gog and Magog with Jews was not merely literary, but spilled over into real life 32.
The tale of cannibalism is repeated on the Hereford world map: on a five-sided peninsula, enclosed on four sides by mountains and to the south by a wall. The inscription states that the horrors in this place are worse than can be imagined, it is intolerably cold and a cutting wind (called "bizo" by the inhabitants -- cf. Fr. "bise") blows from the mountains. The inhabitants are without culture, feed on human flesh and blood, descend from Cain and were enclosed by God through Alexander the Great--in his presence, an earthquake brought down the mountains around them and where there were no mountains, Alexander built a wall. To the south of this wall another caption states that those enclosed here are the same cannibals mentioned by Solinus, who will break out at the time of Antichrist and devastate the world. Finally, the island of 'Terraconta' is said to be inhabited by Turks of the race of Gog and Magog, a barbarous and wild people who eat the flesh of young people and aborted foetuses much as on the Ebstorf map. There is elsewhere on the Hereford map a depiction of cannibals eating human body parts, though without an explanatory caption in proximity.
A few contemporary examples that also relate to geography but come from very different kinds of sources will suffice to show that this is not just map-makers' superstition or fantasy. The philosopher and scientist Roger Bacon (ca. 1220-after 1292) wrote in his "collected works", the Opus Maius (ca. 1265), that a knowledge of geography was necessary to know about the ten lost tribes, that is, Gog and Magog. He was concerned with where they are, not only so that the nations in those places [the north, where Alexander enclosed Gog and Magog] might be converted, not only to save Christians who are held captive there, but also on account of the persecutions of the Antichrist, such that we might know whence he is to come and when. Bacon's concerns are grounded in Biblical authority, though he follows contemporary convention in confusing the ten tribes with Gog and Magog. Marco Polo (1254-1324) seems to have asked about Gog and Magog on his journeys through Mongol China: "It is the place which we call in our country Gogo and Magog, but they call it Ung and Mungul, and in each province there was one people, in Ung were the people of Gog and in Mungul lived the Tartars.
Ranulph Higden's world map (c. 1350) 33 shows a walled-off area in the north-east, south of the Caspian Sea. That the Caspian is not an inland sea but open to the ocean signals this depiction's conservatism. The text specifies that Gog and Magog will break out at the end of the world and do great damage, and that they were enclosed by Alexander. Higden's work seems to have been very popular: around 185 Latin mss. from before 1500 survive, of which twenty contain maps, eighteen of them mappaemundi traceable to Higden's design.
The Catalan world atlas of c.137534 was produced by a Majorcan Jewish cartographer named Abraham Cresques for Charles V of France; Charles' copy was made around 1378 and sent to the Louvre by 1380. This map reflected Catalonian sea-going trade and knowledge in the fourteenth century35 and had a number of predecessors, notably northern Italian maps from which Catalan cartographers seem to have adopted details for the far east--details that derive from Marco Polo's famous account. Gog and Magog figure very prominently on the map of 1375. In the north-east corner of Asia, enclosed by the Caspian Mountains, is a mounted figure, 'the great lord, prince of Gog and Magog. He will come at the time of Antichrist with a great following 36.'His followers hold a baldachin above him. The captions note that Alexander enclosed 'the Tartars Gog and Magog' in the Caspian Mountains (with the aid of Satan!) as well as other nations who dared to eat raw flesh and with whom the Antichrist will come. This slightly-altered traditional story was not an optional part of a world map, nor was it susceptible to 'critical realism' (even though Cresques doubts that Alexander could have got so far to the east). So even if the cartographer was skeptical, his audience clearly expected to find these details in this place. As if to complete the 'apocalyptic geography', 37 in another mountainous cell beside that of Gog and Magog, Christ distributes the palms of immortality to the faithful (kings, nations, bishops, monks). A caption cites Isaiah 66, 19 to the effect that at the time of judgement the Lord will send out prophets to convert distant nations who have not yet heard of him. This effectively ties the ends of the earth to the End of the World. The rotation that forces the reader to study the northern part of the map from the top reinforces the sense that the north is separate from the rest of the world.
In Mandeville's Travels, the enormously popular fourteenth century armchair travelogue and catalogue of wonders, the narrator claims that the Jews of the Ten Tribes, whom men call Goth and Magoth, 38 were enclosed in the 'Caspian Mountains' by Alexander, and that they will escape at the time of Antichrist and slaughter Christians in great numbers. Not merely a book of fables to contemporaries, Mandeville's Travels both reflected and reproduced the world view of literate Europeans in the later Middle Ages.
The so-called Borgia map, a round mappamundi, probably of south German manufacture, was engraved (anonymously) on a copper plate around 143039 and is in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Borgia XVI (gallery). In the far east, within two square regions surrounded by mountains and oriental-looking towers or fortifications, are the captions: "The province of Gog, in which, at the time of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians, the Jews were enclosed" and "Magog in these two [regions] are huge peoples, giants, full of all evil customs. They [are those who] Artaxerxes collected from all parts of Persia".40 The coasts of the Black and Mediterranean Seas follow ancient and medieval tradition; indeed, the map seems very medieval in form. Nonetheless, the shape of Africa and northern Asia suggests the influence of Catalan world maps, that is, the reception of new knowledge. The Portuguese 'discoveries' and the west coast of Africa (Cape Bojador, 1434) do not appear. The confusion of the monstrous and evil peoples Gog and Magog with Jews is typical for the time. It is worth noting that the exile of the ten tribes is attributed (as in most medieval sources) not to Salmanassar (II Kings 17), but (incorrectly) to the Persian king Artaxerxes. This king, according to the apocryphal fourth book of Ezra or Esdras (7,7) allowed the Jews of his realm to emigrate to the Holy Land, but did not collect them. Biblical accuracy was not a priority in this type of text/map. This is the first map known to me to list the iudei inclusi--whom it implicitly identifies as Gog and Magog 41.
Andrea Bianco's 1436 map is in the Bibliotheca Nazionale Marciana, Venice. In the north of Asia, on a peninsula that stretches far out into the sea, are the words "Gog Magog chest Alexander gie ne roccon ecarleire de tribus iudeoron": 'Gog and Magog of the Jewish tribes whom Alexander enclosed in the rocks (mountains) ages ago 42."Gog and Magog begin at this time, following the trend established by the twelfth century in popular exegesis, to be confused on world maps with Jews, esp. the ten lost tribes.
The Benedictine monk Andreas Walsperger of Constance made a world map in 1448, which is now in the Vatican 43. Destombes transcribes a caption in the far north-east: "Waldachat, the capital of Cathay, where the Great Khan resides, Cannibals eat human flesh (figure of a cannibal); Gog and Magog, land of the Red Jews enclosed by the Caspian Mountains"44. Walsperger's map testifies generally to an enduring belief in fables and monsters: "And around this pole [the antarctic one] are most amazing monsters not only of the animal variety but even among humans".
A Genoese world map of 145745 abandons the northeastern quarter of Asia to the apocalyptic peoples: surrounded by impassible mountains and in the north and east by the ocean is a large territory in which are placed trees and fortresses. In this enormous prison, labelled Scythia ultra Ymaum montem (Scythia beyond Mount Ymaus), is the word Magog in large letters (perhaps in Ezekiel's sense as a country?). Wuttke provides a transcription of the captions in the margins and in the figure. The relevant ones here read (in the west): "From this people, that is from the tribe of Dan, Antichrist or [...] will be born, who, opening up these mountains by means of nefarious arts [...] will come to the mountain chain that encloses them"; in the north-west: "Up to here live the ten enclosed tribes of the Hebrew race." 46 In the south-west corner is a tower and a wall, underneath which is the caption "The iron gates where Alexander enclosed the Tartars". The Jews and the Tatars are in the foreground here. Magog (Gog is missing), the Tatars, the ten tribes, the Antichrist and the Alexander story are mixed as though they naturally belonged in the same place--as they by then did, at least in the literature and exegesis directed to the literate but not learned. This point is made forcefully by the carefully empirical scepticism of the contemporary cartographer Fra Mauro.
Fra Mauro, a Camaldolese monk who died in 1459, is best known for the mappamundi finished, presumably by his assistants, on 26 August 1460 and which is displayed at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice 47. Despite its firm roots in medieval learning, this remarkable map points toward a very different cartographic method. Traditional and humanistic learning, practical knowledge of "political geography" not surprising for a resident of the commercial metropolis of the western Mediterranean, and a hard-boiled common sense vie for space on this densely packed work. Mauro criticizes and emends Ptolemy whenever he feels he has less 'corrupt' or more recent information. It is worth citing Mauro's text at length because it is of the greatest cultural and historical interest, demonstrating the gulf that separates him from many contemporary and later cartographers: Some write that at the foot of the Caspian Mountains or a little ways distant are those people,
who, as one can read, were enclosed by Alexander the Great. But this opinion is clearly erroneous and cannot be maintained in any way..
But it is certainly known that there is great diversity in the peoples who live around this mountain such that so great a number of people could not be unknown. Especially since these parts are civilized enough to be visted frequently by our [merchants] as by other peoples, who are Sorsams, Mingresi, Armenians, Circassians, Tatars and many other people who constantly travel this way. Therefore if these peoples were those who were enclosed by him, I believe that [travellers] would be aware of it, and they would be known to us. [...] Therefore I conclude that these [enclosed] peoples are a long way from the Caspian Mountains, and are surrounded by impassable mountains and by the Ocean Sea as though by three cords, and they are under the reign of Tenduc, and are called Ung and Mongul, which the common people call Gog and Magog, thinking that they are those who will break out at the time of the Antichrist. But this error certainly originates with some who distort Holy Scripture to suit their own beliefs. I base my argument on the authority of St. Augustine, who in his book on the City of God reproves the opinion of those who say that Gog and Magog means those people who will be the followers of Antichrist. And Nicholas of Lyra agrees with this judgement, and interprets these two names according to the hebraica veritas [true Hebrew text and meaning of the Bible]. [Mauro further writes] The people called Hu[ng]. These two countries are ruled by Tenduc. Of these it is commonly believed that these people enclosed by Alexander in these countries of hung and mongul derive their names from these two aforementioned countries, which are called among us Gog and Magog, which opinion I do not believe. This [land of] Mongul is inhabited for the most part by Tatar folk. [In the far north-east, at the edge of the "occean", is this legend:] Some believe that these mountains are the Caspian Mountains. But this belief is not correct48
Mauro hesitates to banish Gog and Magog entirely, as he suggests they must be far away, surrounded by mountains and the sea (as on most world maps at the time). Yet he also denies their apocalyptic role, appealing to St. Augustine. He may even have in mind older versions of the Alexander legend, in which not Gog and Magog, but twenty-two (or twenty-four) unclean nations were enclosed. Finally, in the second text alluding again to the enclosed nations, Fra Mauro notes that these areas (Hung and Mongul, the names Marco Polo reports are used for Gog and Magog) are under the reign of Tenduc and rejects the opinion that they are identical with Gog and Magog, as Mongul is inhabited by Tatars (Mongols). Therefore, he undermines the possibility he allowed in the other text that the enclosed peoples might still exist somewhere far from the Caspian. The Caspian Mountains he essentially dismisses as a fable, though he cites elsewhere the Alexander story as a source: a city called "Bucifala" was named by Alexander in honour of his horse. Nonetheless, Gog and Magog continued to appear on world maps for almost two centuries. The medieval world view died very hard indeed.
Ptolomaic world maps (based on Ptolemy's description of the world) enjoyed a vogue among humanists in the fifteenth century and helped establish a more 'secular' image of the world beyond Europe. Generally, they eschewed the legendary contents of medieval cartography. One variant of this classicizing cartography is the "Sallust" map. The Genevan Sallust map is one of many made in the 15th century as illustrations to the De bello Iugurthino. Unlike any other maps of this kind, this one seems to have been influenced by non-humanistic texts/culture and thus includes the iudei inclusi and Gog and Magog[e], who live in different but abutting territories 49.
In a circular world map included in a Ptolomaic atlas in the Stiftsbibliothek at Zeitz (1470), one reads north of the Caspian Sea, almost at the end of the world, the legend: "Gog and Magog//the Jews of the 10 [tribes] [of Caspia?]//are enclosed here"50. Directly outside the gate holding them in are the characteristic legends "here the pygmies fight with the cranes" (a reference to the ancient tale of the pygmies and the cranes)and "here men eat the flesh of men". Within the enclosure is a crowd of people, the only ones depicted on the entire map, wearing pointed hats--a clear though exaggerated reference to the 'Jew's hat' of medieval custom. The confusion of Gog and Magog with the ten tribes is not surprising unless contrasted with the careful scholarship of a Fra Mauro. Although this map derives, along with Walsperger's 1448 map, from a common original, circular in form, made around 1425 at the abbey of Klosterneuburg, 51 and therefore is not Ptolomaic in origin, some Ptolomaic maps adopted the legend of the enclosed Jews 52, which, along with Gog and Magog, was passed down well into the sixteenth century. This longevity may have been based on a sense of Biblical authorization, the extreme distance at which these peoples were placed--"orientalized" and "septentrionated" to the far end of Asia--, or a popularity exceeding that of other medieval legends.
Two very 'medieval' little maps, mere woodcuts that cannot compete with the elaborate learning of large mappaemundi or Ptolomaic maps, appeared around 1480. Hans Rust's map, Das ist die mapa mundi, was printed in three editions at Augsburg. Only one copy has survived (now in the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York). At the top left, by Persepolis, Parthia and the Euphrates is a mountain chain, from which a head topped by a pointed Jew's hat protrudes. The text reads "Caspian Mountains gog and magog enclosed" (berg Caspij verschlossen gog magog). A simliar map by Hans Sporer, Nuremberg (?) c. 1480, survives in two pulls, one in Germany and one in the National Gallery of Art, Washington 53. It is worth noting that precisely this detail survives when dozens of others had to be eliminated for reasons of space.
The Insularium of Henricus Martellus, a German cartographer active in the 1480s at Florence, contains a world map of decidedly Ptolomaic character that would exert considerable influence on cartography and exploration as the basis of Martin Behaim's famous 1492 globe and as part of Columbus' world-view54. On Martellus' map, in the far north-east, surrounded by mountains, is the caption "Iudei clausi". Behaim's globe followed tradition in many details; his depiction of the south-east coast of Africa was already quite outdated, as Fra Mauro had had a more accurate knowledge of this area 55. However, Behaim's cartographic team depicted neither Gog and Magog nor the enclosed Jews. This is particularly striking given that they relied heavily on the Marco Polo tradition for much of Asia and referred to the Venetian many times on the globe itself 56.
Juan de la Cosa accompanied Christopher Columbus in 1493 and later made three other voyages to the Americas. His chart of the world of 1500 57, which in other contexts is of interest for the depiction of the "new" world, shows in the "old", in the far north-eastern corner of Asia, enclosed by a great semicircular river and split by a broad moat, "R[egio] Got" and "R[egio] Magot": above R. Got is a dog-headed figure. Above R. Magot is a humanoid monster whose face is in its chest and who holds in each hand what appears, from the colour and shape, to be a piece of meat. The topos of Gog and Magog as anthropophagi has been merged with Solinus' blemmyae in the latter example, with another legend concerning men with dog's heads in the former.
The early sixteenth century contains no turning point as regards Gog and Magog. Francesco Roselli's oval woodcut map (Florence, 1508) shows the iudei clause enclosed within mountains; beside them is Magog 58. One reason for the continued popularity of this medieval theme may be the surge in apocalyptic expectations around the beginning of the century, reflected in the burgeoning pamphlet literature of an apocalyptic nature: prognostications of floods and the end of the world had been popular since the 1470s; rumours of the Ten Tribes leaving their eastern places of exile to free their co-religionists in the Christian diaspora circulated among Jews all through the fifteenth century and reached Christian circles in the early sixteenth century 59. The publication of new editions of the Revelations of Pseudo-Methodius, such as Michael Furter's 1498 Basel edition, which includes a dramatic woodcut of Gog and Magog breaking out of their rocky confinement (labelled "How Gog and Magog, leaving the Capsian Mountains, capture the land of Israel"), must have contributed a good deal to raising the apocalyptic temperature, as did the (in Germany) perennially popular "Antichrist-books", a genre of popular apocalyptic exegesis related to the vernacular Historiated Bibles and that dates back to the late 14th/early 15th century 60.
Martin Waldseemuller's Carta Marina of 1516 uses the caption "The Great Tartar Gog Khan King of Kings and Lord of Lords", a confusion of the Tatar/Mongol khan with Gog, perhaps a hang-over from Marco Polo's long-lasting description of the area61. This caption was to reappear on several maps. Antoine de la Salle's map of 1522 mentions "Goc & Magoc" 62. Peter Appian's Ingolstadt map of 1530 contains both the iudei clause and Magog 63, as does an anonymous Nuremberg print of 1535: the iudei clause are north of Gogh et Magogh64. One 1535 map of eastern Asia labels the north-eastern coast "AMAGOCH"; in the ocean off the north coast of China are numerous tents, at the centre of which is the well-known text: the Great Tartar Gog khan King of kings and Lord of lords 65. Gog and Magog have "gone native" in the far east, devoid of original context but evidently still powerful to conjure with. Another map of Asia ("Asiae Novissima Tabula"66) uses exactly the same caption in the far north-eastern corner of Asia, north of China, underneath Mongul. Waldseemuller's agglomerative caption clearly expressed connotations and images useful to other cartographers.
Gerard Mercator's early world map of 1538, a nice cordiform affair modelled on the work of Oronce Fine, included in the far north-east of Asia the caption "Amagoch" 67. Giacomo Gastaldi and Matteo Pagano's Venice map of 1550 mentions Gog; 68 various later Gastaldi maps (e.g. 1555), 69 and Paolo Forlani's map of 1560 70 feature Balor and "Giog"; whereas Gastaldi's 1561 Venice map shows neither iudei clause nor Gog & Magog, but "Tartari provincia" throughout northeastern Asia71. The old legends seem to be drying up. However, Gerard Mercator's 1569 Duisberg map, his first using the projection that bears his name, cites Marco Polo: "Mongul which we call Magog"72.
Indeed, Marco Polo's authority continues to influence depictions of the far east on world maps well into the seventeenth century. On Rumold Mercator's map of Asia in Atlas sive Cosmographia meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura (Duisburg 1595), in the far north-east corner of Siberia are, three hundred years later, Polo's "Vng al[ias] Gog" and "Mongul al[ias] Magog"73 and on the sheet entitled "The Arctic Pole and a description of the adjacent lands",74 again in the far north-eastern corner of Siberia, are "Ung, called Gog by us" and "Mongul alias Magog". The same text appears on a polar map of c. 1600: "Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio Per Gerardum Mercatorem".75 The "Helmstedt Globe" (Helmstedter Erdglobus), from the end of the 16th century, lists in far northeastern Asia, reading from north to south: "Bargu, Tatar (the river), Ung which is called Gog by us, Mongul." 76 Willem Janszoon Blaeu's globe, dated 1640, though probably 1648, labels far northeastern Asia as follows: the farthest cape is Bargu; then come Mongul, Tekmongul and Sumongul, Ung and Tenduc ("the kingdom ruled by Christians at the time of M[arco] the Venetian, 1290")77. In Vincenzo Coronelli's Libro dei Globi (Venice 1693/1701) 78, on the map gore depicting China and northeastern Siberia, are "Magog et Mongal" and underneath this "Gog-Iagog et Ung". Marco Polo's authority as 'someone who had been there' was clearly strong even in the seventeenth century--rather an irony, since he was drawing more on his own pre-programmed western Christian view of China than on his experience. 'Empirical' observation and tradition were perhaps less distinct than modern scientific terminology suggests.
An unrelated case worth mentioning, if only because of the mapmaker's fame, is Matthaus Merian's Frankfurt world map of 1638: Gog still appears in eastern Siberia79.
The term 'ethnography' might seem misleading when applied to a legendary people, especially since this people and their characteristics are of secondary importance compared to their function in a specific context. Yet precisely the apocalyptic role of Gog and Magog requires and justifies their continued existence in a certain area as a people with certain (horrific) characteristics that are specified both in text and in images. Even as the medieval tradition of Gog and Magog loses its piquancy, showing up more and more frequently without commentary, Gog and Magog remain a necessary part of European views of the world. It might be argued that their gradual relegation to the far north-eastern corner of Asia, to an area largely unknown to Europeans, explains their survival on maps. I would like to suggest that they are confined to the unknown end of the world precisely because they are the unknown End of the World--they fill in, take over where all other knowledge ceases, they explain the inexplicable and help make intelligible the geographic and temporal extremes of an otherwise increasingly finite, known world.
For many cartographers of the high Middle Ages, and for some in later periods, Gog and Magog's disgusting association with cannibalism and uncleanliness was in the foreground, part of the apocalyptic charge sheet. The relative lack of such detail on later maps does not necessarily mean mapmakers were reproducing a purely obligatory trope: the hotter apocalyptic climate of the later period may well have made such detail unnecessary. On the other hand, more precise Biblical scholarship, especially in the sixteenth century, may have helped suppress such "additional" details, which I argue happens to the legend of the Red Jews. But Gog and Magog far from disappear with the advent of 'empirical' cartography. The slow emergence of a more 'empirical' approach to mapmaking, founded on the assumption that personal experience of a place was more credible than ancient tradition, pushed Gog and Magog to the outer margins of the world, to the ends of the earth where Marco Polo surmised they must be--since they clearly were not anywhere the mapmakers' informants had visited (cf. Mauro). Tradition was being contested, yet it sometimes masqueraded as empirical evidence. While tradition continued well into the seventeenth century to be used to fill crucial gaps, Swift remarked trenchantly at the end of this period (1733):
So Geographers in Afric-Maps With savage Pictures fill their gaps And o'er uninhabitable Downs Place Elephants for want of Towns80.