Soleto Map

The Soleto Map is a possibly ancient map depicting Salento and scratched onto a fragment of a terracotta pot (an ostrakon).[1] While the ostrakon itself is undoubtedly ancient, serious doubts have been raised about the age of the map.

Mappa Soleto.jpg


The map was discovered in Soleto (southern Italy) by Belgian archaeologist Thierry van Compernolle of Montpellier University on August 21, 2003.[2] Scratched into a pottery fragment that dates back to 500 BC, the map includes 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.


There have been strong arguments that the map 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] 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 suggests that the map was made after the pot was broken.[5]


  1. ^ Summary of 2005 colloquium on Soleto Map in Montpellier, 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. ^ For example: (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) Archived 2007-07-13 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Claus Moser, (in German) at