Medea-Chart | The Medieval and Early Modern Nautical Chart: Birth, Evolution, and Use (ERC-2016-STG/714033) is a research project on the History of Nautical Cartography, funded by the European Research Council. It was awarded to Dr. Joaquim Alves Gaspar in September 2016 and will take place between June 2017 and May 2022 from the Interuniversity Centre for the History of Science and Technology (CIUHCT) located at the University of Lisbon Faculty of Sciences

The main purpose of this project is to solve a series of crucial questions that have eluded the historians of cartography for a very long time, pertaining to the birth, technical evolution, and use of nautical charts during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. This goal is to be accomplished using innovative techniques – cartometric analysis, numerical modeling, and the examination of the manuscript charts with multispectral analysis – which will complement the traditional methods of historical research. With the introduction of such techniques, it is intended, not only to solve long-standing problems but also to change the discipline in a profound way, by opening new and exciting opportunities for research. The project aims to provide good answers to the following historiographical questions:


  • When, where, how, and with what purpose were the first portolan charts produced?

  • How and when were the first latitude charts constructed, following the introduction of astronomical navigation, and how did they evolve technically?

  • How did cosmographers, cartographers and pilots deal with the geometric inconsistencies of the early modern nautical charts, caused by the implicit assumption of a flat Earth and by the effect of space and time-varying magnetic declination?

  • How were old nautical charts used by the pilots at sea?

The fact that no satisfactory solutions for these questions have been found so far is explained not only by the scarcity of textual sources, but mostly by the difficulties posed by the complexity of the problems, requiring considerable expertise in unrelated specialized fields, such as medieval and early-modern history, mathematical cartography and marine navigation. It is our intention to contribute to the revitalization of the discipline through the training of a new generation of Historians of Cartography, prepared to consistently apply interdisciplinary techniques to the study of old maps and charts.

Working with us

Spontaneous applications are most welcome, from all fields of research. 

Where we are

Centro Interuniversitário de
História das Ciências e da Tecnologia (CIUHCT)

Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa

Building C4, 3rd Floor, Room 7

Campo Grande

1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal

Phone: (+351) 217 500 197

e-mail: medea-chart(at)