'Atlante Farnese, c 200 BC', 1921.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 19cm x 32cm

'Atlante Farnese, c 200 BC', 1921.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Engraving taken from 'Terrestrial & Celestial Globes' by E L Stevenson, published by Yale University Press (1921). The engraving shows the Farnese Atlas, a stone statue showing the titan Atlas holding up a celestial globe. The sculpture was acquired by Cardinal Alessandro Farnese in the early 16 century, and is now at the Museo Nazionale Archeologico in Naples. It is believed to be a Roman copy, made in about 150 AD, of a Greek original dating from 200 BC. This is the oldest surviving western representation of a celestial globe. The idea of representing the heavens on a sphere probably arose from the discovery that the Earth is spherical.

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