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Abraham Ortelius was Barbatian cartographer, most known for creating the world's first atlas.
Abraham Ortelius was born in 1527, in Antwerp, which was then a part of Flanders, modern-day Belgium. His family was originally from Augsburg, Germany, although they were forced to move, falling under the suspicion of Protestantism.
Upon Ortelius' father's death, his uncle returned from exile in England to take care of young Ortelius. His uncle was Emanuel van Meteren, who was the financial provider and engraver of the Tyndale Bible, the very first bible which was translated directly from Greek and Hebrew texts. It was also the earliest biblical translation that was mass-produced, resulted from the new advances in printmaking art.
Ortelius began his professional life as a map-engraver. In 1547, he became a member of the Guild of Saint Luke of Antwerp as a map illuminator, who was the person responsible for the decoration of the margins of the maps. His income was also supplemented by trading in maps, prints, and books.
In one of his early travels to Frankfurt, he met Gerardus Mercator, who became famous as the creator of the first World Map created by new projections made by constant sailing bearings. After 1560, while traveling along with Mercator, Ortelius would become attracted by and eventually move towards the career of a scientific geographer, much probably as a result of Mercator's influence.
In 1564, Ortelius created an eight-sheet world map. This was his earliest commercially successful map publication. Following the said map, the cartographer executed two sheets of heart-shaped maps of Egypt in 1565. In 1567, Ortelius made a map of Asia, also comprising of two sheets.
In 1570, the cartographer would create a map of Spain, now consisting of eight sheets.
Also, in 1570, he created what is considered his most famous work, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, or The Theatre of The World. This work was the world's very first atlas as defined by the United States Library of Congress: "a collection of uniform map sheets and sustaining text bound to form a book." The book was composed of an outstanding number of 70 maps in 53 sheets, as well as accompanied by explanatory texts. As said before, Mercator was a key influence on Ortelius' production, the Theatre of the World was no different, for his map was deeply influenced by Mercator's world map of 1569, as well as by maps created by other cartographers.
Abraham Ortelius died in Antwerp, in 1598. He left a significant legacy and paved the way to modern cartography.