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This exceptional first edition is Athanasius Kicher’s Arca Noë, in Tres Libros Digesta, quorum: I. De rebus quæ ante diluvium, II. De iis, quæ ipso diluvio ejusque duratione, III. De iis, quæ post diluvium a Noe?mo gesta sunt, quæ omnia nova? methodo, nec non summa argumentorum varietate, explicantur, & demonstrantur. The work was published in Amsterdam by Apud Joannem Janssoniun a? Waesberge in 1675. The work features 19 engraved plates, 3 maps, and various illustrations through the text.
This work is one of Kircher’s most sough after works. It features fanciful illustrations of the Great Flood from the Bible. It includes depictions of imaginary creatures such as the mermaid, unicorn, and gryphon. It also depicts the Flood, construction of the Arc, Eden / Paradise, and maps of the World. Brian Merrill notes that “Kircher figures such specifics as the year of the Flood, the time from the first raindrop until Noah stepped out on dry land, the dimensions and shape of the ark (considered symbolic of the human body bearing the soul), the materials the ark was made of, where the various animals were placed, which animals would have been excluded, where the ark landed, and where everyone dispersed after the Flood.” (Merrill 26)
Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) was a Jesuit priest and scholar. He gathered and helped disseminate knowledge from around the world gathered by Jesuit missionaries. It is believed he was the first to depict the Pacific Ring of Fire on a map. He was one of the final Renaissance men. He lowered himself into Vesuvius after an eruption, experimented with bioluminescence as a light source, and make the first known Aeolian harp. He wrote 44 books, over 2000 manuscripts, and assembled one of the first natural history collections. Kircher’s work was itself fascinating for its thematic maps and depictions of underground passages and subterranean networks of the globe. He created a map that was the first to show ocean currents.