Jan Collaert, ‘The invention of the compass’, from New Inventions of Modern Times. Antwerp, c. 1591. FM: 22.I.8-177 © Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
Terrestrial globe

This image of a scholar in his study comes from a series of depictions of wondrous recent inventions from the Renaissance, showing the creation of the compass. The room is accordingly furnished with objects that relate to navigation: a terrestrial globe, a rolled up map, a sextant and even a model of a handsome galleon in full sail. These objects are all crowded into a small private space that also includes a bed: evidence that the study could be a microcosmic space where the outside world was brought inside, and that provided the location for expansive intellectual and imaginative journeys.

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Morden, Berry, and Lea, Terrestrial Globe. England, 17th century. Wh.2691 © Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge.

This magnificent free-standing globe resembles those seen in numerous depictions of scholars at work, demonstrating the particular power and importance of geographical knowledge. This particular example includes the routes of famous explorers such as Sir Francis Drake, whose voyages to the new world expanded the horizons of knowledge more dramatically than any other development in the period. The knowledge gained by Europeans through these incursions into the new world came at the expense of many indigenous knowledges which were erased as a direct consequence.