Soleto Map

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Mappa Soleto.jpg

The Soleto Map is a possibly ancient map, which depicts Salento on a small piece of ostrakon derived from a terracotta vase.[1] However, while the ostrakon is undoubtedly ancient, doubts have been raised about the age of the map.


The map was discovered in Soleto (southern Italy) by Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle of Montpellier University on August 21, 2003.[2] The map itself dates back to 500 BC and contains letters derived from a Greek script. The languages expressed on the map are both Greek and Messapian. Moreover, the Soleto Map describes the city of Taranto (called Taras), as well as other cities of Salento such as Soleto, Leuca, Ugento, and Otranto. The map went on public display in 2005 at the Archaeological National Museum of Taranto.


Even though the Soleto Map is considered the oldest map in Western civilization, there are allegations that it is a forgery.[3] In the January/February 2006 issue of the Dutch newspaper Geschiedenis Magazine, Dutch archaeologist Douwe Yntema of Vrije University in Amsterdam found the authenticity of the map questionable.[4] Even though the ostrakon is ancient, the authenticity of the engravings are dubious.[5] According to Yntema, the map looks like a school atlas with placenames engraved with "north" at the top. Moreover, the Soleto Map shows the towns as points rather than house symbols found on other ancient maps. Finally, the engravings follow the precise borders of the ostrakon itself, which can lead anyone to interpret the Soleto Map as being made after the terracotta vase was first broken.[6]


  1. ^ Summary of 2005 colloquium on Soleto Map an Moonpellier, France: A New Ancient Map? The Salentine peninsula in the 5th century BC (page taken down: link from Wayback Machine).
  2. ^ Newspaper article on the discovery of the map:Telegraph - Archaeologists find western world's oldest map
  3. ^ One of those allegations is here: (read on November 26th, 2014)
  4. ^ See this article for more discussion on this controversy:Maphist - 'World's oldest map' a fake? (Soleto map 5th century BC)
  5. ^ See this article for more discussion on this controversy:Maphist - 'World's oldest map' a fake? (Soleto map 5th century BC)
  6. ^ Claus Moser, (in German) at