By Tatyana ILYUSHINA, Cand. Sc. (Tech.), chief custodian of the funds of the Educational-Geodetic Museum of the Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography
As a geographical concept Siberia was first mentioned in the 1407 annals: "Tokhtamysh (khan of the Golden Horde killed the year earlier. -T. I.) was killed in the Siberian land, near Tyumen". Then it appeared on the world maps of Italian explorers of the early 15th century: Stefano Borgia named "Sebur civitas" territory near the effluents of the east branching of the Volga, Fra Mauro called "Provincia Sibir" a wide area in the upper parts of the Kama and Vyatka rivers.
First of the mentioned maps-an engraving on two iron plates-initially, obviously, was intended for decoration of the walls. In 1794 it was found in an antique shop and acquired by Cardinal Borgia, and after three years his nephew reproduced it on a copper board. This original was subsequently used for copies. Mauro's work (1439), most typical for the Middle Ages, may be viewed as an apotheosis of monastic cartography: it embodied the greatest achievements of the geography of that time when clerical influence was rather significant. As a whole, 15th century maps can be called Homeric, as they were "full of fantasies" about unexplored lands. The foreign authors' drawings of the middle of the following century-currently available to us-made attempts to depict Siberia, but by and large it remained a riddle for a long time.
The fact that a huge country lies beyond the Urals, Russians knew as early as in the 11th century: the 1096 chronicle mentions Gyuriyat Rogovich who sent his men to Yugorsky lands (the Arctic Ocean coast) to procure furs. Active development of the Asian Russia began in the late 16th century, and lots of explorers started moving farther and farther to the East. In 1667, under the decree of the tsar Alexey Mikhailovich, Pyotr Godunov, Tobolsk governor, prepared a drawing "according to the evidence of all ranks of people, who ... Читать далее