Psalms 107:3 (Plagae Mundi)
Antique copperplate engraving depicting a compass rose from the Physica Sacra, a monumental 4 volume work of natural theology that took over 10 years to complete during the Age of Enlightenment.
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The Physica Sacra was a monumental 4 volume work of natural theology that took over 10 years to complete during the Age of Enlightenment. Called the “Copper Bible” for the enormous amount of metal required to engrave the 762 plates used in total, each image depicts a particular Bible verse or story and corresponding scientific explanation. This finely detailed compass rose represents Psalms 107:3, which discusses the redeemed peoples of the Earth from the east and west, north and south. Plagae Mundi is Latin for “quarters of the world.” An image of a peaceful harbor and ancient ruins decorates the bottom third of the page.
Johann Jakob Scheuchzer was a Swiss scholar and naturalist born in Zurich in 1672. Although trained as a physician, he had one of the most extensive fossil collections in Europe during the 18th century and believed they were a result of the Biblical flood of Noah. The Physica Sacra was a work designed to reconcile facets of natural science with, in his mind, biblical facts available in the Old Testament. The intersection of science and theology was a critical component of the Age of Reason and Scheuchzer’s work helped to lay the foundation for later scientists like von Humboldt and Darwin.
Publication Date: 1731
Author: Johann Scheuchzer
Sheet Width (in): 9.75
Sheet Height (in): 15.5
Condition Description: The map is in great condition with minor offsetting and foxing, along with a ragged left edge