The paper introduces to the details of cartographic knowledge about Georgia, available in Europe in Late Medieval times. The study is based on the analysis of two medieval globes, first seen by the author in August 2002 in the National Museum (Landesmuseum), Zurich, and afterwards studied by him during his scientific mission to the Institute of Art History, Zurich University, Switzerland, in April 2008.
Three medieval globes are on the exhibit at the National Museum in Zurich. The largest one is a terrestrial globe. It was brought to Zurich from the city of St. Gallen in 1712 as booty from the Toggenburg disturbances. Origin of it is not exactly known, though it is supposed that the globe was made in Augsburg, Bavaria, around 1570 for the wealthy merchant Johann Fugerr. The globe was kept in Constance, now in the Grand Duchy of Baden, where it remained till 1595, to move into the ownership of the Abbot of St. Gall Monastery Bernhard II (Műller). Geographic data plotted on the globe correspond to cartographic knowledge available in the contemporary period, and is based on the latest world map of 1569.
Two more globes, smaller than the above-mentioned one, were designed and produced in 1688 by the Venetian cartographer and prominent globe maker Father Vincenzo Coronelli (1650-1718). The globes were produced as a pair of the terrestrial and celestial ones. The terrestrial globe is of special interest to Georgian scholars as it has preserved a number of place names.
The following place names are plotted on the globe: Varthi – corresponds to Batumi, Fasso – Poti, Bedias – Bedia, Moquis – Moqvi, Eschisumuni – Akhali Atoni, Cotatis – Qutaisi, Scanda – Skanda, Teflis – Tbilisi, Zagan – Zegani, Zalissa – Dzalisa. Apart from that, the following province names are marked on the globe: Mengrelia – corresponds to Samegrelo, Imereti – Imereti, Baratralu – Saatabago, Carduel – Qartli, Zacheti – Kakheti, Abassa – Abaza.
The globe lacks the name of Mtskheta, an important religious center of Georgia. We consider that the reason for this was very simple: the globe was intended not for missionaries, but for travelers. Therefore, preference was given to ports and caravan routs. For instance the globe shows location of Scanda, a small city, through which passed an important caravan rout known under the name of “Scanda Road”.
We have observed several mistakes in plotting cities on the globe, as well as in place names. For instance, Scanda – Skanda on the globe lies southwards of Qutaisi. Actually it is located eastwards of the latter. Zalissa – Dzalisa is plotted eastwards of Tbilisi, but actually it lies north-westwards of the city. One more mistake concerns names of two branches of the Caucasus Mountains: the western part of the Caucasus was known to the Europeans as Corax, and the eastern part as Ceraunian. In difference from that tradition, “Monte Corax” for Coronelli is the eastern part of the Caucasus, and “Monte Caucas” is its western part. Despite of the above-noted mistakes in location and place names, study of the globe made by Father Vincenzo Coronelli has revealed the fact, that the European cartographers were well informed about Georgia and its main cities.