The territory of Belarus in the antique maps

Dr. Lev R. Kozlov


The Great Historical Atlas of Belarus

220072, Minsk, 1-130, Akademicheskaja str., Tel: +375-17 294-91-73,


       The areas, where the Belarusian ethnos was formed and then Republic of Belarus was established, are represented on many antique Western European and Russian antique maps. This part of Eastern Europe - Russia Alba was very little known in ordinary writing sources. Antique maps can give one significant number of new facts about this territory, especially historical geography and environmental research.

     Map makers of the 16 and 17 centuries presented the Belorussian lands as parts of the Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland. This maps were made in Germany, Holland, France, Italy and Poland (B.Wapowski. Fra Mauro, S.Munster, G.Mercator, N.Sanson, Beauplan, J.Dankerts). Considering information and technical possibilities of that time, those works contained quite a lot of mistakes. However, due to technological progress and accumulation of knowledge, one could observe the development of cartography. In the 18 century the Nordic War and the coming divisions of Poland drew more attention to the European East. In the beginning of the century many foreign publishers and authors like (J.Homann, M.Seutter - in Germany, N.Delisle - in France), were acting rather actively. And in the second half of the century maps of new style (more detailed and precise) began to publish in Poland itself (J.Neprecki, B.Folino, Perthees, A.Rizzi Zannoni).

     Starting from the end of the 18 - the first half of the 19 centuries Russian cartographers began to take dominant position in displaying the Belarusian lands. As governments they appear in atlases of K.Opperman and W.Piadyshew. For the first time the detailed map of Western Russia ("diesiatiwerstka", 1:420000) was made by F.Shubert, In the second half of the 19 century the "triokhviorstka" (1:126000) was the main large-scale map. Besides, works of A.Illin and A.Strelbitski had practical importance.

     Taking into account general trends towards presentation and usage of antique maps, Belarus is due to publish a significant number of these unique sources providing them with relevant comments.