Orientation of the map of Lazarus (1528) of Hungary – result of the Ptolemian projection?

Gábor Timár, Gábor Molnár, Balázs Székely, Katalin Plihál

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article

2 Citations (Scopus)


The strange orientation of the map of Lazarus (1528) has been a subject of a long debate of Hungarian cartographers in the 20th century. In this map, northeast is up, instead of the normal and traditional orientation where the north is up. It was long ago supposed that this orientation is a result of the local/regional usage of the Ptolemian projection of the world maps of the age of the map construction. If a Ptolemian conic projection is defined in the GIS environment with the parameters of Ф1=0°, Ф2=64°and Λ0=90° (from Greenwich), interestingly enough, the map can be rectified and the resulted image has right angles at its corners and all sides are horizontal or vertical in the Ptolemian coordinate system but not, of course, in the modern ones. The linear rectification errors in this projection are more or less equal to the quadratic ones in fitting to modern coordinate systems eg. to a UTM zone. This suggests that the above projection can be considered at least as a substituting one or even the real projection of the Lazarus map. If we consider this projection as a Ptolemian one, it leads to a more general indication: the Ptolemian projection used also by Lazarus has two standard parallels, the Equator and the Northern Circle, which is more or less the same as the mysterious Parallel of Thule in the maps of Ptolemy. In the map, however, the main directions are rotated by 90°; the grid north points to the original left indicated by the word ’Occidens’ (west), which is considered as an error of the press preparation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
JournalLecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography
Issue number199089
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2010
Event1st ICA Symposium on Cartography for Central and Eastern Europe, 2009 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: Feb 16 2009Feb 17 2009


  • GIS
  • Georeference
  • Historical maps
  • Lazarus Secretarius
  • Pannonian Basin
  • Ptolemian projection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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