EuroSpeleo 2016 Sessions

The oldest artificial cave map

Session code: OE5

Oral / Exploration, Main EuroSpeleo Conference

Mr Bernard Chirol


The first drawing of an artificial cave with orientation information is the plan of the Labyrinth of Gortyne (Crete) drawn in 1415 by Cristoforo Buondelmonti. Until today, it was considered that the map of the artificial cave "Stufe di Nerone" situated at Pozzuoli near Naples and published by Georg Bauer (Agricola) in 1546 was the most ancient (T. Shaw, History of cave science, 1992, p. 13). The Labyrinth of Gortyne drawing is a sort of bird's eye view, with orientation (almost usual one). It was published in 1417 (C. Buondelmonti, Descriptio insulae Cretae, 1417). I found this "map" on Internet (see the numerous references joined in the article about Buondelmonti) when doing a research about Anna Petrochilou who studied it in 1984-1985 (topography). Michel Fournier has given a lot of e-documents about the mysteries of this site. My colleagues of the UIS History Commission confirm the novelty of this ascertainment.
For the moment, the oldest natural cave map is that of Santa Rosalia in Sicilia (1627).


President of the UIS History Commission
Caver since more than 40 years