In the beginning...
In the vaults of the University of Southern California’s Archives and Special Collections Library sit two copies of the Nuremberg Chronicle. The work, published in 1493, is one of the earliest printed books and is celebrated for its integration of text and illustration.
The book tells the story of the world, as those in Europe at the time understood it. It framed time Biblically, beginning with the Flood and ending with the Last Judgment. However, the longest section in the work elaborated upon the world at the end of the fifteenth century. It did so through the histories of its cities. The story of location after location was told and was often accompanied by pictures of these urban centers.
In the fall of 2014 undergraduates at USC examined the chronicle and saw in it new possibilities. They knew that the work itself reflected the advancements Europeans had made in print and cartography during the period, but, with the help of modern day technology, they thought it could do even more.
They wanted to see what happened when they used new technologies to explore the old. First, they wished to see how older conceptions of the globe matched our own. They located the cities spoken of in the chronicle on a map of today’s globe. Each node marks the location of a place mentioned in the chronicle and, when accessed, reveals the woodcut of the city and a transcription of its history with links to additional information. Second, they sought to make this information more widely available and so they developed this website. To enrich the website, they have also included additional information such as historical background on the Nuremberg Chronicle and interviews with faculty involved in the project.
Every year new students are adding more information to this website until we have a complete view of how the world presented in the Nuremberg Chronicle compares with our own.