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B/N 989 Ancient maps of Sri Lanka

The Philatelic Bureau of the Department of Posts has Issued three new postage stamps and a souvenir sheets, in the denominations ofRs. 15.00 each, on 22nd March, 2020, that depict ancient maps of Sri Lanka.

Date of Issue September22nd, 2020
Denomination Rs.15.00 x 3
Catalogue No: Rs.15.00 - CSL 2397
Rs.15.00 - CSL 2398
Rs.15.00 - CSL 2399
Stamp Designer P.Isuru Chathuranga
Stamp Size: 41mm x 30mm
Sheet Composition: 20 stamps per sheet

First Day Cover

Miniature Sheet

Eratosthenes of Cyrene (284 - 194 BC - Alexandria) was Greek polymath renowned for the study of geography and is known for being the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth, which he did by comparing angles of the mid-day Sun at two places, a known North-South distance apart. He was also the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth's axis. Both these calculations were remarkably accurate. He created the first global projection of the world, in which Sri Lanka too is depicted. In this map Sri Lanka is called Taprobane. We know that there were subsequent Greek and Roman maps. For example there is a reference to a world map, an orbispictus, in a speech by Eumenius, an Ancient Roman panegyrists. Apparently this map was on display in a school in Augustodunum, Gaul (now France) in the 3rd century. However most of them have been destroyed.

Ancient Map of Sri Lanka (1560 – 65 AD)

Around 1595, Cypriano Sanchez, a Spanish cartographer who was working for Portuguese map makers in Lisbon, produced this map of Sri Lanka, pentagonal in shape and fairly detailed in its description. This map was included in the famous Mercator's Atlas in either the 1619 or 1630 edition. This map does not depict Colombo, however it has detailed topographical notes and depicts at various points, of the type of vegetation and the animals special to the district. In this remark this map is quite different from TTomasoPorcacchiCastilione's map circa 1572 AD.

Ancient Map of Sri Lanka (1572 AD)

Early Roman, Arab, medieval European and Asian maps do not depict the true shape of Sri Lanka in its maps. These maps also contain inaccurate or incomplete depictions of rivers, mountains and other geographical features. However Tomaso PorcacchiCastilione's (1530 – 1585 AD) map is a marked improvement in these aspects.

Ancient Map of Sri Lanka (1681 AD)

Out of the three maps depicted in the stamps, this map, drawn by Robert Knox is the most accurate one. Knox, who was a sailor, was taken captive in 1659 by the troops of King Rajasinghe II king, who ruled Kandy at that time. Knox lived 19 years in Sri Lanka and had an extensive understanding about the country. This helped him to create a more accurate map. This was also one of the first maps in English. The central highlands, most of the rivers and cultivations, lagoons and ports around the country are fairly accurately depicted on the map.

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