Selden Map of China


This is the official website of the Selden Map of China (Bodleian Library, MS.Selden supra 105), and has been compiled by Robert Batchelor and David Helliwell.

In 1712, the antiquary and diarist Thomas Hearne was appointed Keeper of the Anatomy School, now the main reference area in the Lower Reading Room of the Bodleian Library.In 1721, he wrote a list of its contents, among which was “A very odd mapp of China. Very large, & taken from Mr. Selden’s”. This is what we now know as the Selden Map of China. It was left to us by the London lawyer John Selden in 1659, and has been famous as an interesting curiosity ever since. But only in January 2008, when the visiting scholar Robert Batchelor noticed the very faint lines indicating trade routes and compass bearings from the port of Quanzhou to all parts of East Asia and beyond, was the immense significance of the map realised.

These pages present what we currently know about the map and offer a high-resolution image of it. They also begin the process of putting it into a greater cultural and historical context. They chart the course of its restoration, and give details of the forthcoming colloquium. There is also an essays page, to which contributions are welcome, and a blog for news

Content last updated: November 24, 2012